New to the aria?

Opera lecture series with Daniel Abrams kicks off next Thursday at Woodstock Jewish Congregation

by Ann Hutton
May 05, 2011 11:35 AM | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daniel Abrams
Daniel Abrams
Everything that you ever wanted to know about opera will be expertly presented by internationally acclaimed concert pianist, recording artist and lecturer Daniel Abrams, who also happens to be an opera-lover. A scholar and collector of operatic recordings and videos, he has been known by friends and close fans to expound on the likes of Wagner over a leisurely dinner table for hours. The breadth of his familiarity with famous and obscure works of opera is extensive, and it is his pleasure to share this passion with others.

On Thursday, May 12 Abrams will present the first of a series of three lectures at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Titled “Opera: The Ultimate Art – From the Intimate to the Spectacular,” the beginning presentation will be devoted to the genesis of the form during the Baroque period. At that time, vocal performances took place in palaces and churches, primarily to entertain and enlighten the nobility. It is interesting to note that while the voice came to be seen as a musical instrument, the actual performers were mere servants to the court and the church.

It wasn’t until the Classical era that operatic performances were done in venues built for such entertainment. With Mozart, opera took to proper stages, just as classical music was performed in concert houses. It’s said that Mozart, the opera master of the 18th century, transformed the genre with his productions. This era will be the focus of the presentation to be held on Thursday, May 26.

And on Thursday, June 16 Abrams will cover the Romantic opera, focusing on Wagner and beyond. It was during this period that performances turned into passionate love stories with the full bloom of bel canto virtuosity. Paralleling the development of concert performances, all elements of production were expanded: the ornate staging, the theatrical aspects, the very writing and composing of operatic masterpieces.

During the programs, Abrams will feature selected excerpts from his collection of more than 100 operas on a large screen, along with powerful audiovisual tools, to help the audience better understand and appreciate the form.

The suggested donation for each lecture is $20 per person at the door. The Woodstock Jewish Congregation is located at 1682 Glasco Turnpike between Saugerties and Woodstock. For more information, call the synagogue at (845) 679-2218 or visit

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