Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dershowitz writing opera, Finkelstein plans rebuttal

A recent article in the Forward documents an interesting case of musical chutzpah:
Alan Dershowitz may have finally found a vocation that allows him to make more noise than he does as a celebrity lawyer, professor at Harvard Law School and prolific author. His new calling? Opera.

"This is my current retirement project," Dershowitz told The Shmooze. "It’s the only one without a deadline except the one God and nature has imposed on my longevity."

Dershowitz’s opera-in-the-making tells the story of Gershon Sirota, a world-famous cantor who was nicknamed "the Jewish Caruso" after the great tenor Enrico Caruso. Sirota’s star rose in Odessa and then, in the early 20th century, in Warsaw. The cantor died in the Warsaw Ghetto, a tragedy that Dershowitz plans to dramatize.

"In the first act, I establish who he is, his great influence," Dershowitz said. "At the end of the first act, the Nazis occupy Warsaw. In the second act, he learns that he has an opportunity to go to America with his family. The crux of the opera is his decision whether or not to leave Warsaw. He decides to remain, and is murdered along with his whole family." [...]
Norman Finkelstein has denounced the intended opera as the "latest shameful episode" in Dershowitz's career, and a "tansparent attempt to musicalize the holocaust industry, with the intended goal of justifying the theft of Palestinian land." Finkelstein further pointed to Dershowitz's lack of musical training to claim that the opera would be "plagiarized" and derived from an unpublished musical work by Joan Peters:
Dershowitz is not without musical experience — he was a choirboy growing up in Brooklyn’s Boro Park at Temple Beth El, and at one point he dreamed of becoming a cantor — but he readily admits the limitations of his prowess. He is writing the libretto for the opera and picking out melodies on the piano, and down the road he plans to get help from more seasoned musicians. [...]
As Tikun Olam blogger Richard Silverstein comments:
I think he needs more than an arranger. He needs a ghost composer.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad

No comments: