Most memorable for me was Mátti Kovler's Here Comes Messiah. His music bore a close resemblance to Bernstein's filled with all the same joy and wonder
Pete Matthews, Feast of Music
HERE COMES MESSIAH
mono-opera for soprano and orchestra
Libretto © Janice Silverman Rebibo
Here Comes Messiah!, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the 2009 Upshaw/Golijov Workshop, follows a young woman through three stages that culminate in giving birth and oscillate between comedy and revelation. In the hospital soon to give birth, she is accosted by “chattering behind her back”. She insists all is normal and as it should be.
In Act 2, she can no longer deny her fate and her fear rises. She attempts to push down her fear with fantasies about her “cotton candy”, her sweet baby, and the niceties for him. A frightening vision of a descending falcon seems to threaten her child (the text builds a gradual allusion to the falcon and other elements in W.B. Yeats’ The Second Coming). Transitioning, both in terms of labor and delivery and into the final Act of the piece, she suffers the acute pain of being chosen and asks the ultimate questions, “Why me? Why my child?”
Act 3 brings her through the monumental throes of this seemingly unattainable childbirth, which give over to the wondrous secrets of Peliah.
Written by Janice Silverman Rebibo
Soprano, cl, vln, vla, 2 vcl, acc, p-no
toy p-no/synth, perc, electronics
It is not surprising that I felt a particularly strong connection to Mátti’s piece: I was there namely as part of his retinue. I am also familiar with his compositional idiom, and Here Comes Messiah! was clearly marked with the Kovler stamp. Mátti’s instruments are not merely textural tools, but characters themselves. As the piece began, the breaths and physical movements of his solo singer were echoed and magnified by the ensemble. From this point, there was no question that we were not watching a poem with orchestral accompaniment, but instead the group effort of a large cast of players – in which extraordinary poet-translator, Janice Silverman Rebibo unambiguously belongs. It was particularly in the second part of the piece that this group dynamic gained a strong hold over the audience’s attention. In the climax before the third and final part, the performers’ grip on the room was visceral, tangible, in a series of fortissimo pulses (labor pangs) from the instrumentalists, and exclamations from Tehila Goldstein. Here the expressivity she had already demonstrated earlier intensified exponentially, in her face, her stance, the timbre of her voice. Mátti was at the piano, and he brilliantly made use of it in this passage, as both a harmonic and percussive instrument, driving the sound of the others around him. Although his part in Here Comes Messiah! is less central than in his Cokboy (performed earlier this year in Boston), and the work revolves around a woman’s experience in child birth, it is, nonetheless, entirely an extension of Matti himself. He is wholly present in his music, and not simply because of his compositional language or aesthetic. The audience does not need to be introduced to the composer, or his thought process, to become privy to his internal world – he wills us to come in.
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Mátti Kovler’s “Here Comes Messiah!” — a monodrama, in some onomatopoetic detail, about giving birth — was sung, spoken, whispered and breathed by Tehila Goldstein, an agile soprano. It, too, had a folk touch: its ending is a graceful setting of “Peliah,” a Hasidic song based on a Psalm text.
New York Times
May 09, 2009
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall NY
Alan Pierson (cond.) Tehila Nini Goldstein (soprano)
May 09, 2009
Jordan Hall, Boston
Mátti Kovler (cond.) Tehila Nini Goldstein (soprano)
May 20, 2010
Boston University Concert Hall
Mátti Kovler (cond.) Reut Rivka (soprano)
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