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Cantor Mass

Shaarey Zedek's Opera's Banned by the Nazis

By Simone Cohen Scott,October 19, 2012

Today’s audience of fifteen at the first of three showings of operas banned during the 30’s by the Nazis, reflects a success of sorts. Cantor Anibal Mass of the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue is a treasure trove of knowledge about opera, and several years ago he began a program dubbed ‘Cantor of the Opera’, paraphrasing the well-known classic. Presenting carefully chosen selections on the synagogue’s ultra wide screen, he provided commentary expounding on Jewish connections, whether to historical context, composer’s friendships and/or prejudices, or hidden attitudes within the composition.   The presentations were interesting and informative, whether or not one was an opera aficionado.
These presentations stopped, and were sorely missed by a core group of fans of opera and of history. Upon inquiry it was found attendance did not warrant the program, and no wonder, as its’ unique value was never widely publicized. Yet, whenever the possibility of reintroducing the program was suggested to Cantor Mass, his enthusiasm and excitement was overwhelming. He particularly wanted to share the vast repertoire lost during the Nazi era, which only recently is beginning to resurface. The Shaarey Zedek Program Department needed to be convinced: use this resource, or lose this resource.
Apparently the criteria for making a program a ‘go’ is seven registrants. Beginning last Spring, effort was made to recruit seven solid commitments from individuals in the community, a kind of Opera Club. Ultimately, in mid-August, one session was appropriately enrolled, and this group was treated to a wonderful production which had been banned simply because the composer refused, on principle, to accept an honour from Hitler.
That was the beginning of the program’s revival, and, capitalizing on the momentum, a series of three was planned for Sunday afternoons in October. The first of these happened this afternoon (Oct.14th). The second and third are scheduled for Oct.21st, and 28th. Then there will be a suspension while our community’s snowbirds head South. Upon their return, Cantor Mass will be ready with more from his collection, based on another theme. The showings begin at 2 p.m. The cost is $5.00 for members, $7.00 non-members. Bring your friends and enjoy a worthwhile musical and informative experience.
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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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