A former Detroiter
and two singers
with Israeli roots
appear in DSO
ewis Carroll's Alice is acquiring a
little more spring in her imaginary
steps with the help of David Del
The composer and Pulitzer Prize winner
is ready to introduce Dum Dee Tweedle,
the largest and last of his works dedicated
to the Alice stories and his only opera.
The piece, a setting of Carroll's Through
the Looking Glass, joins narrator, soloists
and the Wayne State University Symphonic
Choir with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra for its world premiere
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
The overall program, titled Wolfgang &
Wonderland, includes DSO concertmaster
Yoonshin Song performing Mozart's Violin
Concerto No. 2.
For the opera, Alexandra Silber, who
grew up in the Michigan Jewish com-
munity, returns home to perform the role
of narrator. Hila Plitmann and Re'ut Ben-
Ze'ev, raised in Israel, add solo voices to
"It's very exciting for me to be involved
with an original, creative process in the
contemporary musical world:' says Silber,
30, whose early performance training
was at the Jewish Community Center of
Metropolitan Detroit and Interlochen
Center for the Arts.
"This is a piece filled with pure imagi-
nation and fun. I like its playfulness as it
takes part of the story that people know so
well and expands it.
to Scotland and got my degree from
"As narrator, I provide what we experi-
the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in
ence through the conventional means of
Glasgow and was put on a different path:'
storytelling. Although I am a soprano, I
During her final year of school, she got
use my acting skills as this piece weaves
the leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's
vignettes together through the narration:"
The Woman in White staged in London.
Del Tredici has taken some
She went on to appear in Fiddler
of Carroll's original words
on the Roof and Carousel, both
and applied them directly.
Sometimes, he has repeated
Silber, based in New York,
phrases multiple times or ren-
returned to the United States
dered them in different order.
four years ago. Her varied work
All patrons are invited to
has ranged from a Carnegie Hall
a free pre-concert discussion
appearance in Song of Norway to
with the composer and Teddy
roles in different incarnations of
Abrams, assistant DSO conduc-
Law & Order.
tor, one hour before each perfor- Alexandr a Silber
"Each year, I hold a Chanukah
mance. The Sunday afternoon
party:' says Silber, who is single
concert will be webcast at dso.
and whose mother, Catherine,
org/live and heard through the
lives in Warren. "This year, I'm
DSO to Go mobile app.
going to have it on the last night.
"Audiences need to have mind
"What I love about Judaism
and imagination wide open to
is the relevance of parables to
get everything out of the experi-
literal stories. For me, Chanukah
ence Silber says. "They're going
is about the times when people
to be hearing beautiful music
think they are out of fuel and
and singing with fun narration
nothing left, but if they
Hila Plit mann
offering adventurous and inter-
have faith, the fuel is there:'
Silber's DSO appear-
Silber's career has brought lots
ance comes in the middle of
of adventure, recently highlight-
Chanukah, and she is looking
ed with her singing of the role
forward to first meetings with
of Maria in the San Francisco
the other production members.
Symphony's first symphonic pre-
"I've done a lot of David's
music:' says Plitmann, 40, a
sentation and recording of West
Side Story, under the direction
soprano who lives in London
of Michael Tilson Thomas.
with her husband, composer
Re'ut Be n-Ze'ev
"My father, Michael, passed
and conductor Eric Whitacre,
away right after I graduated
and their 8-year-old son, Esh.
from high school, and I took a pause in the
"I really adore David's writing. It has
Detroit area to figure out what I wanted to
a fantastic quality, a mix of reality and
do with my life," recalls Silber, who lived
dream. The piece we're doing is typical of
high Romantic style. The music is fun with
in Birmingham and went to Groves High
nine sections and a finale:'
Plitmann, who has performed Del
"I realized I had two options: implod-
ing spiritually as a response to tragedy or
Tredici's The Final Alice with the DSO and
advancing in the face of tragedy. I moved
champions lots of contemporary music,
studied piano before joining choirs. Her
first opera audition, at age 14, was for
the Israeli Opera production of Benjamin
Britten's The Turn of the Screw.
"I went to Juilliard after high school and
kept doing contemporary music:' Plitmann
says. "I wasn't necessarily planning on
doing that, but I'm happy the music took
me that way:'
The soprano has appeared as a head-
liner with the New York Philharmonic, Los
Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago
Since growing up hearing recordings of
Yiddish music and Israeli folk songs, the
Grammy winner has recorded The Ancient
Question ... A Journey through Jewish
Songs, released in 2011.
"Just two weeks ago, the Los Angeles
Philharmonic had its 10th anniversary
celebration of Disney Hall residency:'
she says. "I did a Frank Zappa piece
(200 Motels), and it was so much fun. I'll
be going to Pittsburgh to do a piece by
Ben-Ze'ev, a mezzo soprano, will be mak-
ing her debut performance with the DSO.
"There are no actual roles in this pre-
sentation:' explains Ben-Ze'ev, "Everybody
is a piece of something and everything. It's
abstract, interesting and cutting-edge. I
feel very much at home with this style:'
Ben-Ze'ev, in her 30s, had wanted to be
an actress and studied theater in Israel.
After coming to New York to take acting
lessons, she fell in love with jazz and con-
temporary music. Her studies at Mannes
College the New School for Music launched
her singing career when she was in her 20s.
"I was invited to Florida by the Israeli
consulate to be its artist-in-residence she
recalls. "It was the Israeli Jubilee so I start-
ed singing and touring in South Florida. I
went back to New York, met a lot of differ-
ent composers and started recording:'
Ben-Ze'ev, who recorded Jewish art
songs for the Milken Archive, has per-
formed standard repertoire and new
works as her career advanced with appear-
ances at venues such as Lincoln Center,
Jerusalem Music Centre and the American
Academy in Berlin.
"My family has been in Israel since
1882:' says Ben-Ze'ev. "They were among
the first to settle in the area:'
Preparing to do a Rachmaninoff record-
ing, Ben-Ze'ev relaxes with yoga and walk-
ing. She and her wife, a social worker, are
raising twin boys.
"Detroit will experience a fantastic team
and amazing composer:' she says. "It's excit-
ing to be part of something so new:'
Wolfgang & Wonderland will be
performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov.
30, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at
Orchestra Hall in the Max M. Fisher
Music Center in Detroit. $15 and up.
(313) 576-5111; dso.org .
November 28 • 2013