October 2015: The Lion's Way




Goldie and I have for many years traveled into the city in the evening to attend the opera at Lincoln Center. We would take the elevator to the very top of the theater to what is called the Fourth Tier. (These were the least expensive tickets.) The music was as good up there as it was in the orchestra. Unfortunately the performers were very tiny. Sometimes opera glasses helped a bit.

Now with Peter Gelb General Manager of the Met they have brought us High Definition Simultaneous presentations of some of the finest operas right here at a theater near home. We chose to go to Farmingdale Multiplex Movie Theater on Broad hollow Road. What is nice about going there, the management allows you to bring your lunch and drink coffee during the performance. Best of all they have stadium seats and a giant screen. The performers are giants!

Why am I telling you all of this?

I am reading as many older books in our library as I can so that I can pick out very good ones to recommend to you. I think I hit a homerun with The Lion’s Way by Lewis Orde. (The title seems to have nothing to do with the story).

The book is about opera. It is 685 pages. When I reached the end I was disappointed because I didn’t want it to end. We learn about E lucevan le stelle, (and the stars were shining) an aria from the third act of Tosca; and about la donna e mobile, (woman is fickle) from the third act of Rigoletto; and about Che gelida manna. (what a frozen little hand) from act one of La Boheme; and Vesti la giubba, (put on the costume) from act one of Pagliacci.

The piece de resistance or the highlight of the book, especially in a Jewish library is La Juive or The Jewess, and its famous aria by the Jew Eleazar or sometimes called Lazarus and his “daughter” Rachel in the Fourth Act: Ah! Rachel, quand du seigneur (Ah! Rachel, when to me all merciful heaven.

It is sung by a religious Jew whose “daughter” has been seduced by a Christian…but it is she who is punished by death not him. The truth, unbeknown to him, Rachel is the daughter of the Cardinal who has sentenced her to death.

One nice thing about You-Tube on the computer you are able to hear and see every aria mentioned in the book as well as the full two and half hour performance of La Juive. I have a rough copy of the libretto in English. (I will try to get a better copy if you borrow this wonderful book).

The book is much more than just a book about the opera. It’s about a poor kid from the Bronx, by the name of Daniel who at his Bar Mitzvah learns he has a nice voice. He goes up to the mountains one summer as a waiter at a hotel where he meets another waiter Moshe who is studying law and they become close friends. When the Moshe hears Daniel’s voice he declares himself a talent agent and sets up a performance at the hotel where his “client” is a hit. Unfortunately they had to rush home because of a problem that arose. In time Daniel becomes a Hazen or Cantor and eventually becomes a world acclaimed opera star. The story comes to an end after 30 years in opera and he is allowed as a retirement present to perform as Eleazar in La Juive.

If you would like to borrow this book call me at 623-6739 or e-mail me at judgejerry@optonline.net.