Harry Silverstein changed his thinking
about opera, but envisions
change in the future.
SUZANNE CHESSLER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
sk Harry Silverstein what University of Houston, where he
he likes about directing decided to pursue a different in-
opera and he will discuss terest — film.
The original reason for the
the research and the col-
laboration. Ask what he finds move was his wife's career. She
tough about it and you will hear wanted to attend to complete her
Ph.D. in biochemistry at Hous-
the same answer.
In town for the first time to di- ton.
To Mr. Silverstein's disap-
rect Tosca, Mr. Silverstein talked
about his style of work. Michigan pointment, the film program col-
Opera Theatre (MOT) audiences lapsed. He opted for a drama
will see it firsthand May 20-21 at curriculum.
"I was recruited by the Hous-
the Masonic Temple.
"I find it very interesting re- ton Grand Opera because of some
searching the lives of the artists projects I had done. Until then, I
of origination and what was hap- actually had detested opera,
peeing at the time," said the di- thinking it was a conceit of
rector, who teaches opera wealthy people who sat through
performance at Chicago's DePaul it as if they cared.
"The first production that I
"This becomes part of a pretty worked on was Don Carlo.
substantial preparation routine er had experienced anything like
Tosca director Harry Silverstein.
for an opera I haven't worked on it. The cast was brilliant and the
before, and I generally like to performance was stunniiig. I fell
press, in a meaningful way, the
have at least a year's advance no- in love with opera.
whose love and life are destroyed everyone's response to be appro- things that currently are impor-
tice for each project." He usual-
tant to people who are creating
was that when opera's bad, it's by an evil police chief, draws ing individually."
ly does three per year.
much of its enduring success from
Mr. Silverstein, who tries to be works of art and enjoying works
Mr. Silverstein locates recom- very, very bad, but when its good the intense nature of the emo-
mended recordings for each opera it's really very, very good. I felt tional play through three inter- tuned into the interests of his two of art."
While Mr. Silverstein has been
children, often thinks about the
and tries to get a visual feeling that there were things I could add esting characters.
with Jewish corn-
for the piece, what the compos- that might assist it in becoming
"Creating a collaborative work attractions opera offers young au- posers of modem opera, he does
er was trying to say and what the very, very good."
In Texas, Mr. Silverstein is very exciting for me," said the ted to presenting works by not know of any who have used
librettist was trying to do.
director, an Illinois resident since
thematic material that could be
"The next step is a series of in- worked his way up from assistant 1984, when he was recruited to contemporary composers.
He has introduced modem op- considered Jewish. He has found
vestigations into the text," he stage manager to stage manag- work for the Lyric Opera of
that some bring new approaches
a foreign er to assistant director. He con-
said. "Since Tosca is in
Chicago. "I like the rehearsal pe- eras in this country and overseas, to historic subjects while others
language, I had to go through sidered every experience riod with fine singing artists, con- working with many companies use their talents to address to-
including the San Francisco,
translating the piece word for educational.
As staff assistant director ductors and designers.
"Working with other person- Seattle and New York City op-
"Ultimately, the art form will
'The last step is to put the mu- when Hal Prince was responsi- alities also can be difficult be- eras as well as the English Na- die if it only relies on pieces that
tional, Melbourne and Auckland
sic back with the words. The mu- ble for
operas. His first collaboration on are 100 or 200 years old," Mr. Sil-
sic for opera generally is written dicle, Mr. Silverstein learned how
a 20th century piece was with verstein said. "In order to bring
to the libretto, and it enlightens the legendary Broadway artist
young, contemporary audiences
Philip Glass, composer of Aklinat-
us as to the emotional qualities coaches invidualerformers af-
into the opera, it's necessary to
that the composer had in mind ter each rehea
"Hal Prince always was able to
"I'm very excited by contem- find voices that speak to them,
for the characters."
porary opera because it's the real and those voices are going to
Mr. Silverstein, 43, learned his deal with the largest issues of the
come from composers."
future of what we do," he said.
craft through work rather than characters, the most meaningful
"In the way that its important
studies. Employment offers, things, and how they affected cause the nature of an artist is to
Tosca will be performed at 8
which accelerated his career very what each character did or how respond to a work and commu- to have art museums, it's impor- p.m.
Saturday, May 20, and 2
quickly, did not leave him with the character spoke." Mr. Sil- nicate that response. Invariably, tant to have opportunities that p.m. Sunday, May 21, at the Ma-
enough time to earn a degree. verstein is convinced that suc- three different people are going enable us to enjoy the brilliant sonic Temple. For information,
After enrolling in Philadel- cessful communication remains to have three slightly different re- pieces of the past like Tosca.
"In addition, it's important for call (313) 874-SING.
phia's Temple University as a central to anyone's achievements. sponses, and so it can be chal-
art form to continue to ex-
history major in the 1970s, Mr. He believes
lenging to find a way for
Silverstein transferred to the work about a passionate diva
a convert to opera.