SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
ezzo-soprano Irina that includes years of steady
Lekhtm is a work with the Kishinev Opera
good neighbor for anyone House and studies at the Mol-
who appreciates serious davian State Institute of Arts
and the Moscow-Gnesin State
The Oak Park apart- Music Institute.
ment dweller spends part
Although she never learned
of every day sitting at her upright Yiddish, she can understand
piano and practicing selections some of it and used the lan-
from The Snow Maiden, Faust, guage to pioneer TV, radio and
Madame Butterfly and other op- record initiatives in her native
eras in which she is appearing or land. Unfortunately, mone-
would like to appear.
tary problems interfered with
There are nostalgic moments, the release of the records.
too, when she sings Russian love
Recently, she returned to
songs while accompanying her- Kishinev to perform in Car-
self at her living room keyboard. men and went on to encore
"Sometimes I get a little loud, the same role for Belgium and
but the neighbors seem to like it," Turkish audiences. She was
laughed Ms. Lekhtman, who first disappointed that she had to
practiced with a pianist at the decline the role of Marina
Jimmy Prentis Morris Jewish Mnishek in a Belgium pro-
Community Center after moving duction of Boris Godunov by
to the area just over two years Mussorgsky.
ago. Having her own instrument
"They are starting re-
allows more worktime flexibility. hearsals in Belgium in the
The former soloist with the middle of August," she
Moldavian State Opera con- lamented. "When I asked
stantly is working to establish her them to let me go for five
career in the United States at a days to perform with the De-
level comparable to what she had troit Symphony at the Hol-
achieved in her former country. lywood Bowl, they told me,
Both before and since moving No.' I decided to lose that
here, she has enjoyed engage- job to stay here.
ments at European opera hous-
"For a year and a half, it
seemed I was just waiting.
Lately, the American success- Now it seems like jobs are
es have been strong, if not as fre- beginning to come my
quent as she would wish.
Just returned from an Inter-
On Aug. 10, she will be
lochen performance of The Snow the only singer performing
Maiden with the Detroit Sym- with the DSO at Chene
phony Orchestra, the diva is re-
hearsing for repeat performances
— Aug. 18 at Orchestra Hall and
Aug. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl.
"I heard about the Hollywood
Bowl all my life, even in Russia,
and I am really happy to be on
the same stage with the great
musicians from the Detroit Sym-
phony," said the singer, who also
has recorded several selections
with the orchestra.
"I think it's one of the best or-
chestras in the world, and I can
feel the warmth from everybody."
Ms. Lekhtman and her hus- -
band, Alexander, decided to leave
Moldavia to give their 11-year-
old daughter, Rachel, religious
and economic opportunities they
felt would not be available in
The classical vocalist brings
with her a musical background
Park. She will present selections
from Carmen and "Climb Every
Mountain" from The Sound of
One of her goals since moving
to Michigan has been appearing
with the Michigan Opera The-
atre. She will be doing that Oct.
21-30 in the role of Suzuki in
Madame Butterfly. In February
and March, she will perform the
same part at the Opera Pacific in
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Last April, she was cast in a
Toledo Opera Association pro-
duction of Faust.
"Each time I am on stage, you
can't imagine my feelings," she
said. "I'm soaring; I do not feel
my feet. I try to practice a lot so
I can learn some new pieces. I al-
ways want to do my best."
Based on her most recent ex-
periences, Ms. Lekhtman is do-
ing a series of auditions for a re-
spected New York agent, some-
one she is confident can open new
stage doors for her. She is
preparing to do her third audi-
tion for him before Labor Day.
Ms. Lekhtman, whose family
has joined Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, continues to enjoy singing
before Jewish and community or-
ganizations, often on a much larg-
er scale than she encountered
when these groups helped launch
her career in America.
"There were 1,000 people who
came to see me at Beth Shalom,
and it was terrific," she reported.
"For the High Holidays, I will be
singing at Temple Israel at three
services a day; it's always excit-
ing to see so many people pray-
ing and celebrating."
She will open the season for
the Music Study Club in Sep-
tember, and she has been adding
to her list of voice students, some
studying as private students and
others enrolled at the Dearborn
For a short while, she enter-
tained at DePalma's Restaurant.
Mr. Lekhtman gives his wife
professional encouragement as
he seeks his own career niche.
An engineer in their native land,
he started out here by doing con-
struction work. Now he buys, re-
pairs and sells cars that have
been damaged in accidents.
While the diva misses her par-
ents, who remain in the former
Soviet Union, she is happy to be
in metro Detroit.
"I think in the Jewish corn-
munity everybody knows my sto-
ry and is following me," she said.
"I just love people, and I love the