Last Night at the Cabaret Yitesh is playing at the Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront. It’s a crazy mix of cabaret and other influences from the wild and wacky pen of Michael Wex. The back story is that it’s 1938 and the last night that the Yiddish language Cabaret Yitesh will perform in Warsaw before being, in effect, deported. So, no longer dependent for their continued existence on the whims of the censor’s office they can let rip.
Last night, as part of the Ashkenaz Festival, we got to see Henekh Kon’s Bas-Sheve. It’s the only known pre Holocaust Yiddish opera and there’s quite a saga involved in it getting to a staging. The work dates to 1924, when it premiered in Warsaw then disappeared. In 2017 Dr. Diana Matut unearthed an incomplete piano score version which was completed and orchestrated by librettist Michael Wex and composer Joshua Horowitz to create an hour long piece that premiered in August 2019 as part of the Yiddish Summer Weimar festival.
It’s still pretty quiet but there are some things still going on:
August 16th to 20th, the National Ballet has free performances at Harbourfront incorporating a number of partners and an eclectic mix of dance styles. Details.
August 28th at pm in the Music Garden at Harbourfront Lawrence Wiliford and PhoeNX Ensemble are performing Alec Roth’s Songs in Time of War. This one is free and outdoors so “weather permitting”. Continue reading →
The 2018 Ashkenaz Festival opened last night at Koerner Hall with a concert titled Yiddish Glory. The background can be found in my preview post about it. So last night four vocalists and an assortment of instrumentalists performed nineteen numbers from the collection. They date from 1942; when the outcome of the Great Patriotic war was far from certain, to 1947; when it was already won. The bulk date from 1944/5; when the outcome was clear though maybe not the costs still to be borne.