Five local Jewish boys join Opera Australia

March 9, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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Director of the French opera La Juive about a Jewish young woman who is in love with a Christian man Constantine Costi directed local Jewish actor Geoff Sirmai as Shylock in a spectacular and sympathetic production of The Merchant of Venice a few years ago.

Local Jewish actors in La Juive. L-R David Wiernik, Brendan Zlatkis, Martin Cohen, David Spicer and Geoff Sirmai

He approached him to suggest some local Jewish performers who would add authenticity and ‘neshama’ to the production of La Juive.

Geoff Sirmai told J-Wire: “I was delighted… he’s an inspirational young artist. I’d call him a rising talent… but he’s very quickly established himself through Bell Shakespeare and Opera Australia as a highly thoughtful, creative and ‘simpatico’ director of stage theatre and opera. He’s very much in demand!

He also engaged me to work as a cultural advisor on the piece – helping to get the look and ‘feel’ right of the Jewish characters, their traits, manners and ritual scenes such as the secret Passover seder.

It’s been a terrific experience working with a huge team both onstage and behind the scenes on what is an epic production based on an acclaimed version from Opera Lyon.
Bringing forward a powerful story of forbidden love in the midst of appalling antisemitism (composed in the mid 19th century) from its 15th century setting to 1930s Germany has been confronting for us on a very personal level. But it has extraordinary music, amazing performances from the main singers and its themes are – sadly – both timeless and universal.”

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