Ashkenaz Festival 2022 to Present ‘Bas Sheve’

By Afton Wooten

The North American premiere of Henekh Kon’s “Bas-Sheve” will take place at the 2022 Ashkenaz Festival.

“Bas Sheve” is the only known pre-Holocaust Yiddish opera. It follows the story of Bathsheba and King David’s affair.  Performed only at its 1924 premiere in Warsaw, the work was lost until unearthed by German musicologist Dr. Diana Matut in 2017. Toronto-based Yiddishist, Michael Wex, was brought on board to complete the missing parts of the libretto, as was American Klezmer musician and composer Joshua Horowitz to orchestra the work and fill in missing portions. When finished, six new movements were added to the score, along with additional transitions and choral parts. The new version of “Bas Sheve” was premiered in August 2019 at Germany’s Yiddish Summer Weimar Festival.

This concert version of “Bas Sheve” is directed by Neal Stulberg. Featured soloists are Jaclyn Grossman, Jonah Spungin, Marcel d’Entremont, and Geoffrey Schellenberg. They are joined by the UCLA Philharmonia at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto from Aug. 31 – Sept. 2.

This production received support from Ashkenaz, Yiddish Summer Weimar, and the UCLA Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience, along with the Canada Council for the Arts, Azrieli Foundation, Toronto Workmen’s Circle Foundation, Rebanks Family Fellowship Program of Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory, and the UJA Committee for Yiddish.