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The Aaron Copland School of Music to Present THE DYBBUK

The Aaron Copland School of Music to Present THE DYBBUK

The Aaron Copland School of Music presents The Dybbuk, an opera by Joel Mandelbaum, based on a play by Sholom Ansky on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 7:30 pm at LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College, Flushing, NY 11367 and on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 at 8:00 pm at Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W 67 St., New York, NY 10036.

Just two weeks after his 85th birthday, composer Joel Mandelbaum will conduct soloists and a full orchestra in excerpts from his opera The Dybbuk. The program will be presented first at Queens College, and then at Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan.

"This represents the boldest presentation of my works in a decade and my most ambitious to attempt to conduct such a program in my entire lifetime," says Mandelbaum.

"It seems natural to have this the same year as our 60th anniversary," adds his wife Ellen. "Joel was beginning [The Dybbuk] in 1956 when we first met at Brandeis University, and continued writing it when he first taught at Queens College."

Mandelbaum's earliest students remember it from then, and are the core of a fan club that grew as the decades passed. Word of mouth has grown with anticipation of this performance with Mandelbaum at the helm. In fact, this performance probably would not have come about without the urging of Gilad Paz, a former student who sang Rabbi Azrael's aria from The Dybbuk and fell in love with the opera.

It is important that The Dybbuk is finally being performed with an orchestra led by the composer who knows it most intimately. An important work among the many in the contemporary repertory, the story of The Dybbuk, adapted from Sholom Ansky's play, has all the elements of opera: Leah and Channon fall in love, but her greedy father rejects the penniless young man who, in turn, makes a Faustian deal with the dark spirits of the Cabbala. After the youth dies, the young woman is possessed by a dybbuk - the spirit of the dead Channon.

The story is rich with the mystical folktales of the time. A mysterious Messenger sings of how "The heart of the world can only live when it can see the crystal spring... and so begins another day of life." In a dramatic scene, the Dybbuk is exorcised by Rabbi Azrael, but Leah dies. As the opera concludes, it seems as though she is flying up to heaven with her lover. "Too late!" declares Rabbi Azrael. "Blessed be a righteous judge," says the Messenger.

The performance features Gilad Paz, Emily Misch, John Ramseyer, Amy Maude Helfer, Stephan Kirchgraber, Jin Xiang Yu, and T.J. Barnes.

Tickets to the Queens College performance are free. Tickets to the Merkin Hall performance are available at

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