Art & Culture




“The Comedy of Love” or “Love as Comedy”, the Aeterna Jerusalem Theater of Chamber Opera’s newest production, took place in the recently opened Mikro Theatre of the Jerusalem Center of Performing Arts on May 24th 2016. Under the musical direction of Ilya Plotkin, the a-capella Musica Aeterna Choir was founded 20 years ago. Then, thirteen years ago, Maestro Plotkin established Opera Aeterna, its first production being “The Impresario” by W.A.Mozart.  The idea for the 2016 production, a combination of three of Italian Baroque music’s most popular comic intermezzo operas – Pergolesi and Paisiello’s settings of “La serva padrona” and Telemann’s “Pimpinone” -  was thought up by Maestro Plotkin. Eleanore Plot in was project director. The idea was realized in the hands of stage director Julia Plakhin. Costumes and sets were designed by Irina Tkachenko, with makeup by Helena Plotkin. Maestro Plotkin directed a competent chamber orchestra of strings players and continuo. Opera Aeterna, whose members (and much of the audience at this performance) are largely Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, is supported by the “Keshet Omanuyot” Association, the Ministry of Absorption, the Center for Absorption of Immigrant Artists and Returning Residents and by the Gabriel Sherover Foundation.


How does one combine three operas on one stage? For a start, each presents the theme of the maid-mistress setting her sights at an older, gullible man and the consequences thereof, as inspired by Jacopo Angelo Nelli’s 1714 play “La serva padrona” (The Servant Turned Mistress). Opera Aeterna’s comic twist was to have all characters of both operas on stage. From “La serva padrona” there was not one but two Serpinas – Serpina I – soprano Shirelle Dashevsky, soprano II – soprano Julia Plakhin, with bass Andrei Trifonov as Uberto. From “Pimpinone”, Irina Mindlin played Vespetta, with baritone Dmitry Lovtsov in the role of Pimpinone. Opera Aeterna makes no practice of using surtitles in its productions, so, in addition to the traditional Italian characters of both operas, actor Yitzhak Peker assumed the (non-singing) role of narrator: he was the landlord of the house in which all these questionable, go-getter characters were living. In addition to explaining, commenting and constantly communicating with Maestro Plotkin, the landlord himself was also looking for love, thus also being involved in the romantic attractions and rejections all taking place in his house. And there was another new character on the scene - Stam-Coli (tenor Dmitry Semyonov) – the figure of the narcissistic pop singer. Where did he belong in the plot? Actually, nowhere for most of the performance, being so obsessed with himself, his looks, his image, his outfits and his microphone! If early 18th century composers had intended the “serva padrona” characters to represent real-life personalities, replacing commedia dell’arte characters, creating the figure of Stam-Coli was a brilliant touch.




At the left side of the stage we see Uberto’s studio with easel, palette and a few discarded empty bottles. Plants, a bench and an antique chair give the impression of a dwelling. Three large windows at the back of the stage allow the audience to see into other rooms of the house. The chamber orchestra and conductor occupy the right wing of the stage. The landlord enters, an abacus in hand to calculate rent owing to him, as Uberto threatens him. We were soon to realize that the evening’s musical bill consisted of some of the finest solos and duets from all three operas. The stage quickly became alive with action, with womanly wiles taking control and relationships complicating. Both Serpinas pine to rekindle their love with Uberto. Shirelle Dashevsky is coquettish, teasing and ebullient; she is so well suited to the opera buffa style and her well-oiled voice sails naturally through each phrase.



The other Serpina – Julia Plakhin – is vivacious and flirtatious, her vocal agility, musicality and feminine esprit serving her splendidly. But Uberto is not impressed and wants nothing of either of the competing female admirers; in this role, Andrei Trifinov’s richly resounding voice was as pleasing as his face was disgruntled!  Dmitry Lovtsov, dressed in pyjamas and an elaborate gold brocade dressing gown, was excellently cast as the foolish, elderly and lecherous Pimpinone. Irina Mindlin was a daring and promiscuous Vespetta, scheming, snide and quite the vixenish woman. She and Lovtsov pulled out all the plugs as they entertained the audience with their risqué humour, fine voices and superb musical presentation of Telemann’s masterful duets. And how droll it was to hear the shaky, dejected and finally disillusioned Pimpinone suddenly singing in Yiddish! As to the farcical Stam-Col, Dmitry Semyonov, his tenor voice smooth and easeful, had the audience chuckling at his eccentricity as he seemed to float on and off stage, his face fixed in a rapt expression, and sporting some over-the-top costumes. At one moment, he unexpectedly appeared in a Mexican outfit, complete with sombrero, singing the popular Mexican song “Cielito Lindo”. As narrator and the landlord, Yitshak Peker, although somewhat exotically clad, cut a pathetic, needy figure but, with all the “re-pairing” happening by the end of the performance, he finally managed to win his true love – Serpina I – Shirelle Dashevsky. Uberto had won the affections of the hard-to-get Vespetta. Stam-Coli and   Serpina II – Julia Plakhin found love in each other – an unlikely match…but, after all, this is opera! Only Pimpinone, looking pathetic hunched sadly behind the window, was to remain alone.  In a last spurt of energy, he sprang out, gun in hand, to seek revenge and get Vespetta’s money. There ended the performance, its main themes of money, the duplicity of women and the narcissistic singer interwoven in an evening of fine and truly comical operatic fare.


Photos: Daniel Zaman





Over 60 leading women from across the world joined together last month for a panel discussion showcasing Israeli females in the lead.
Organized by The Israel Project (TIP) and the Embassy of Cyprus in Israel, the event served as a platform to discuss and understand the challenges and opportunities facing women in Israeli society in the modern age.
Among the panelists were popular journalist Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes. Former IDF commander Miri Eisin and Israeli Olympic athlete Maayan Davidovich.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, today (Thursday, 15 June 2017), in Thessaloniki, at the third trilateral summit, signed joint statements for the continued strengthening of relations.

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A senior delegation from Tanzania, headed by Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, Permanent Secretary Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, arrived in Israel for a series of meetings and events designed to increase cooperation with the Israeli tourist industry, and encourage Israeli tourism and investments to enchanted, exotic Tanzania.

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At a festive ceremony attended by Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, the Lauder Dormitory Building was inaugurated today at the Technion
state of the art building was donated to the Technion by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and his wife Jo Carole

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09 June 2017 – Jerusalem) The U.S. Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited Yad Vashem today. The Ambassador was guided through the Holocaust History Museum by Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of Yad Vashem Libraries, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

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On Wednesday evening, June 7th, the Embassy of Slovenia in Tel Aviv celebrated 26 years of independence, and 25 years of bilateral relations with Israel. The commemoration was held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa. The event was timed to coincide with visits by both the Minister of Education, Science and Sport Dr. Maja Makovec Brencic, and a high-level parliamentary delegation led by National Assembly President Dr. Milan Brglez.

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President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday) met at his residence in Jerusalem with United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley.

President Rivlin welcomed her and said, “You are a dear friend of Israel. We appreciate your strong stand on the world’s most important stage, in support of the security of the people and the State of Israel. With your support we see the beginning of a new era. Israel is no longer alone at the UN. Israel is no longer the UN’s punching bag.”

He continued, “When I spoke at the UN on Holocaust Memorial Day, I said that the UN must learn from the lessons of the past, and stand up against hatred and racism. I said it must end its obsession with targeting Israel. Progress has been made. Israel’s standing at the UN has improved. But sadly, we have a long way to go. Both in holding to account, public statements made by officials, and in supporting regulation to reduce the ridiculous number of discussions and resolutions against Israel. This is also true in the Human Rights Council - which has been hijacked as a weapon against Israel - and in UNESCO, where they seek to rub out the history of the Jewish people.”

The President thanked the Ambassador for her great contribution to the State of Israel, and said, “Ambassador Haley, as the representative the US - Israel’s greatest and strongest ally - we appreciate very much your support of Israel, and all you do to stand up for the values of freedom and democracy which we share. Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem.”

Ambassador Haley thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “Thank you Mr. President for taking the time to meet with us, it is an absolute thrill to be here in Israel, I so much appreciate the support we have received from the people of Israel. But I feel somewhat guilty because all I did at the United Nations was tell the truth. I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time, and we are not going to let that happen anymore. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations. We just got back from Geneva, talking about the Human Rights Council and hopefully it will be a new day at the Human Rights Council when it comes to Israel.”

She concluded by saying she was greatly looking forward to her visit to Israel and said, “I am looking forward to taking in the history, the beauty, the tradition, and all that comes with the magic of Israel. Thank you very much for having me it is a pleasure to be here.”

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

Friday was a beautiful late spring day; the gardens were lovely, the weather was fine; the guests were elegantly attired; the refreshments were generous and delicious; all the makings of a happy celebration marking the National Day of Sweden. H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, ambassador of Sweden to the State of Israel, hosted the event at the ambassadorial residence in Herzlia Pituach.

The event was attended by many Swedish nationals living in Israel; Swedish music, Swedish food, Swedish sponsors and a generous open bar – all the makings of a happy event.

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A fundamentally agricultural holiday, Shavuot commemorates the custom of bringing offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks.

Shavuot, the Holiday of Weeks, is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, along with Pesach and Sukkot. These are the holidays on which the whole Jewish people would come to Jerusalem​ in ancient times, when the Holy Temple was there, and would offer animal and grain sacrifices.

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Tel Aviv Eat presents three evenings of tastings and workshops featuring the region’s leading restaurants and most prominent chefs. Entrance is free (including the chefs’ demonstrations), and tasting portions range in price from NIS 20-35. Doors open each evening at 18.00. There are several performance stages, live music, and stands selling beer.

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"Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who had endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust, only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating." President Donald J. Trump

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The Charles Bronfman Auditorium at Habima Square is one of the centerpieces of the Israeli arts and cultural scene, home to the Israel Philharmonic for the last 60 years. On Friday, May 19th, it was home to yet another historic event, with the dedication of the entrance hall to Miri Shitrit of blessed memory.

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President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin today, (Monday), welcomed President of the United States Donald J. Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump on arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and then at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

On his arrival at the President’s Residence, President Trump signed the official guest book and wrote, “It is such a great honor to be in Israel and be with all of my great friends”.

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  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Monday, 22 May 2017), at Ben-Gurion International Airport, welcomed US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with an honor guard.

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President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday , at a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassadors to Israel from Thailand and Spain. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.

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