The words of Anne Frank have been read the world over, but her story gets new life in the opera “The Diary of Anne Frank,” presented by Opera in Williamsburg for one night only on Wednesday.
Naama Zahavi-Ely, founder and artistic director of Opera in Williamsburg, said she originally saw this opera in Israel. After the performance, Zahavi-Ely said she got in touch with Ayelet Cohen, an Israeli-American opera singer, to bring the work to Williamsburg.
“What we as Opera in Williamsburg do is the standard basic beautiful operas — the classical repertoire,” Zahavi-Ely said. “But I’m also interested in other repertoires, and looking to do it not instead of what we do, but in addition to what we do.”
Thanks to a grant from the Williamsburg Community Foundation, the opera will be presented to the public for free.
“We were able to make it free, but we’re still (taking) reservations,” Zahavi-Ely said. “I think last time I (checked) there were nine seats left, it may be less than that now, out of 260.”
While the show was composed by Grigory Frid in 1968, the words are taken directly from Anne Frank’s diary.
“(Anne Frank) really expressed herself very well — she was a very good writer in addition to everything else,” Zahavi-Ely said.
Cohen added one of the reason’s Anne Frank’s story is still read today is because it touches people on an emotional level. However, both Zahavi-Ely and Cohen think the opera will give Anne Frank’s story new depth.
“I think as an opera it was even more effective because of the combination of the music and the words together,” Cohen said.
“That is the strength of opera — conveying emotions,” Zahavi-Ely said. “Every art combines many elements but every art form conveys a particular field if you like — and opera is particularly strong in conveying emotion.”
Cohen said she enjoys this production because, as a solo performance, it allows her to explore the entire range of Anne Frank’s moods and emotions.
“She goes from extreme happiness to so much sadness, to tremendous fear. Then falling in love and also being optimistic— and once again fear and frustration,” Cohen said. “It’s just such big range of moods and emotions I feel it’s just a lot of fun for me to present it, and outlet to just be human.”
Because she is the mother of three small children, Zahavai-Ely said Cohen will only to perform one show while in Virginia.
“(Cohen’s) making a huge effort,” Zahavi-Ely said. “She’s leaving (the children) at home with her husband and parents … she’s paying for transportation, she’s coming from Israel all the way to Williamsburg to perform.”
Cohen said she plans to return to the states with her entire family next year to perform a few shows in different locations, mostly in California, where she studied and performed opera for eight years.
“If Naama Zahavi-Ely would like to have me for an event she has in mind, so there is a possibility I’ll be back in Williamsburg, but I’m not sure,” Cohen said.
Want to go?
“Anne Frank’s Diary” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Williamsburg Regional Library, 515 Scotland St.
Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. To reserve a ticket, visit artful.ly/opera-in-williamsburg-va. Reserved seats will be held until 7:15 p.m. and then will be made available for others.
Learn more about this and other shows at operainwilliamsburg.org.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.