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Photo: Janina Laszlo

Israeli opera singer Na’ama Goldman’s new place of residence has become Berlin, where she feels like she has truly arrived. Her new CD Legata, which she recorded with Italian pianist Giulio Zappa, is an invitation to deeply personal explorations into the lieder (or song) repertoire. Especially the Jewish repertoire plays an important role here. The program allows for an intensive development of the interaction born between the singer’s dramatic mezzo soprano and Giulio Zappa’s piano accompaniment.

„Why Berlin, out of all places? The city from which my family was forced into exile? I found answers in music,“ Na’ama Goldman explains her decision to relocate. Another musician who personifies the timeless, creative, and progressive spirit of Berlin is composer Kurt Weill – especially through his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, working at such historical locations as the Komische Oper or the Berliner Ensemble. „Nanna’s Song“ gives insight into the rough place that Berlin can be, especially for the seventeen-year old who this song is about. She has just discovered love and already has to find her way through a ‘market of love.‘ Will her precious feelings survive this ordeal?

In various ways, the songs on this program get down to the nitty-gritty of life – textually as well as emotionally. In her choice of songs, Na’ama Goldman has also closely approached her own Jewish cultural roots.

Maurice Ravel’s „Deux Mélodies Hébraïques“ and his „Kaddish“ reference the songs sung in synagogue prayer. In addition to the spiritual component, Goldman offers a decidedly female view: „When I sing Ravel’s Kaddish, I am reminded of the power of women, since this prayer was traditionally reserved to be performed only by men.“

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was originally from Brno and later fled the Nazis, emigrating to the United States. Known for his critically acclaimed main work, the opera The Dead City, Korngold also produced a substantial lied (or song) oeuvre. His „Six simple songs“ are structured along Romanticist ideals: They show an intimate, but intense approach, where art is found in subtle details and not so much in grand gestures.

At this moment in the program, then, an excursion into Romanticism is fitting: „Where the beautiful trumpets blow“ is a deeply sorrowful, but painfully charming song. It narrates the meeting of two lovers right before the man has to go to war. Who would have thought that a song like this would hold such urgency in today’s world? The „Little legend from the Rhine“ feels more peaceful, but just as yearning. The Rückert song „I have been lost to the world“ thematizes a death wish.

Joel Engel was born in Russia but emigrated to Palestine, where he passed away in 1927. He saved an awesome treasure of Jewish folk songs from Russia from falling into obscurity, and he produced new arrangements of these works. Goldman explains her personal interest into this Israeli composer: „Engel’s music carries with it the sounds of far-away memories.“ Her favorite song „Only after you“ bridges the interpersonal and the spiritual realms.

Sasha Argov’s music holds a similar fascination for Goldman. Argov was likewise originally from Russia, but later adopted his Hebrew name and wrote no less than 1200 songs. Some of them were so patriotic that they became anthems of the Israeli armed forces. Eyal Bat is one of the leading contemporary composers in Israel. More than 200 of his vocal works and his arrangements are being performed worldwide by renown Israeli choirs. „Argov and Bat opened up new perspectives on my motherland for me,“ Na’ama Goldman describes the identity-establishing influence which emerged out of her study of these two composers. 

One of the love songs on this album has a direct connection to Goldman’s family history: „David Sonnenschein’s ‘Elei Tashuv‘ was dedicated to my grandmother, so I feel a direct link to my own roots.“

Na’ama Goldman

The distinguished singer has won many awards and is lauded by critics for her enthralling stage presence and her glowing voice. She regularly performs a wide variety of main roles on stages all over the world. In 2010, she delighted audiences and critics alike when she filled in, at the last minute, the main role of Carmen at the Masada Opera Festival by the Israeli Opera. She performed with the Israeli Opera many times, including in the main role in La Cenerentola, as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, as Fenena in Nabucco, and in 2018 and 2022 once again as Carmen. Goldman is also an accomplished concert soloist and performs at numerous international concerts.

Giulio Zappa

Born in Italy, Giulio Zappa graduated summa cum laude from the Conservatorio Guido Cantelli di Novara, where he studied under Oleg Marshev. He continued his education as piano accompaniment with Bianca Maria Casoni and Irwin Gage. Since 1996, he has made a successful international career as voice instructor and accompanist and has collaborated with many international artists.