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Barrocade’s most recent production was Daniel Purcell’s opera “The Judgement of Paris”. This writer attended the event on April 1st 2017 in the Church of the Ark of the Covenant, Kiryat Yearim, some ten kilometers west of Jerusalem. Barrocade – the Israeli Baroque Collective - was established in 2007; its musical director is Amit Tiefenbrunn, with Shlomit Sivan serving as its administrative director. For the opera, Yizhar Karshon conducted from the harpsichord. Oded Reich was stage director. Costumes, stage design and assistant director - Gan De-Lange; lighting design - Yehiel Orgal; assistant producer - Liat Lidor. Vocal soloists Eitan Drori, Revital Raviv, Hadas Faran-Asia, Einat Aronstein and Oded Reich were joined by the Shachar Choir (director: Gila Brill).

Daniel Purcell, Henry Purcell’s younger brother (or cousin) was one of four composers entering a competition held in 1701 by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax to encourage the development of all-sung English opera. All competitors were required to set William Congreve’s libretto to “The Judgement of Paris”. Daniel Purcell took third place and his opera quickly sank into oblivion. The libretto relates the well-known myth: Paris, a shepherd is visited by Mercury – a messenger of the gods – who gives him the golden apple of discord, which he is to award to the most deserving of three goddesses – Venus (goddess of love), Pallas (goddess of war) or Juno (goddess of marriage). In his informative program notes, Yizhar Karshon draws comparisons between the theme of the opera and the politics of Purcell’s time, in particular, regarding politicians’ (or perhaps Charles II’s) attitudes to women, maintaining that audiences of the time would have understood the warnings Paris received not to become obsessed with hedonism and idleness. Still, Paris chooses to award the prize to the god of love, with dire consequences to follow. Karshon offers explanations as to Purcell’s rich instrumentation: the two recorders (Shai Kribus, Katarzyna Czubek) symbolize the double-piped ancient Greek Aulos flute, a pastoral association. The recorders also symbolize Venus, love and temptation. Karshon mentions the role the trumpets (Yuval Shapiro) and timpani (Nadav Ovadia) play in heroic sections of the opera, especially to do with Pallas. The choir, a band of shepherds, advises and supports Paris.

Barrocade’s fresh, exuberant-sounding performance of the opening symphony takes the audience directly into Purcell’s lively setting, in which a line-up of outstanding home-grown Israeli singers probed Daniel Purcell’s discerning setting of the words, with fine, uncompromising portrayals of the characters. Bass Oded Reich was a regal, authoritative and mischievous Mercury (towering, too!), his gripping presentation of the text alive with meaning, modulated and articulate. Eitan Drori’s large, silvery tenor voice served him well as Paris as he gave his all to the character experiencing a range of human emotions and beset with such human dilemmas. His gentle, supple “asides” contrasted splendidly with moments of elation, his voice swelling into some strategic penultimate dissonances:

‘O Ravishing Delight!

What Mortal can support the Sight?

Alas! Too weak is Human Brain.

So much Rapture to Sustain.

I faint, I fall! O take me hence.

Ere Ecstasie invades my aking Sense…’

As Juno, soprano Hadas Faran Asia used her intuitive sense of melodic line, her face, eyes and the stage area to portray the queen of the gods - a woman both tender, wily and controlling, as she advised Paris to go for something more ambitious and rewarding than shepherding! Einat Aronstein, clad in a mini-dress and armour, dealt as well with the challenging music as she did with the assertiveness of Pallas, taunting the confused and perplexed Paris, knocking him to the ground with her spear, as he struggled to raise himself. Soprano Revital Raviv, fetching and gracious, her voice stable and creamy, was wonderfully suited to her role as Venus as she shaped and embellished melodic lines, spinning melisma passages with alacrity and mesmerizing poor Paris.

Choruses, short as they were, were clear, blending choral timbres and well-shaped. Under Karshon’s vigilant, detailed direction, Barrocade’s instrumental playing was both committed, subtle and effective, addressing the timbral beauty of the various instruments. Small instrumental pieces (symphonies) placed between arias reflected the storyline, also allowing for movement on (or below) stage. It was a colourful production with lively staging and imaginative, witty costuming. And as the characters on stage teased or were teased, the audience could not but smile throughout the performance. Daniel Purcell’s “Judgement of Paris” is a most beautiful work, a rare find, a lost work brought back to life. An outstanding performance!

Photo:Tatiana Druz

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The EU Delegation in Israel and the Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Yafo presented:  Performance Europa!
Urban celebration of live performances and interactive installations
Tel Aviv’s White Night ,Rothschild 1 Plaza, 29 June 

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Over 60 leading women from across the world joined together last month for a panel discussion showcasing Israeli females in the lead.
Organized by The Israel Project (TIP) and the Embassy of Cyprus in Israel, the event served as a platform to discuss and understand the challenges and opportunities facing women in Israeli society in the modern age.
Among the panelists were popular journalist Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes. Former IDF commander Miri Eisin and Israeli Olympic athlete Maayan Davidovich.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, today (Thursday, 15 June 2017), in Thessaloniki, at the third trilateral summit, signed joint statements for the continued strengthening of relations.

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A senior delegation from Tanzania, headed by Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, Permanent Secretary Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, arrived in Israel for a series of meetings and events designed to increase cooperation with the Israeli tourist industry, and encourage Israeli tourism and investments to enchanted, exotic Tanzania.

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At a festive ceremony attended by Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, the Lauder Dormitory Building was inaugurated today at the Technion
state of the art building was donated to the Technion by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and his wife Jo Carole

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09 June 2017 – Jerusalem) The U.S. Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited Yad Vashem today. The Ambassador was guided through the Holocaust History Museum by Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of Yad Vashem Libraries, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

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President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday) met at his residence in Jerusalem with United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley.

President Rivlin welcomed her and said, “You are a dear friend of Israel. We appreciate your strong stand on the world’s most important stage, in support of the security of the people and the State of Israel. With your support we see the beginning of a new era. Israel is no longer alone at the UN. Israel is no longer the UN’s punching bag.”

He continued, “When I spoke at the UN on Holocaust Memorial Day, I said that the UN must learn from the lessons of the past, and stand up against hatred and racism. I said it must end its obsession with targeting Israel. Progress has been made. Israel’s standing at the UN has improved. But sadly, we have a long way to go. Both in holding to account, public statements made by officials, and in supporting regulation to reduce the ridiculous number of discussions and resolutions against Israel. This is also true in the Human Rights Council - which has been hijacked as a weapon against Israel - and in UNESCO, where they seek to rub out the history of the Jewish people.”

The President thanked the Ambassador for her great contribution to the State of Israel, and said, “Ambassador Haley, as the representative the US - Israel’s greatest and strongest ally - we appreciate very much your support of Israel, and all you do to stand up for the values of freedom and democracy which we share. Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem.”

Ambassador Haley thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “Thank you Mr. President for taking the time to meet with us, it is an absolute thrill to be here in Israel, I so much appreciate the support we have received from the people of Israel. But I feel somewhat guilty because all I did at the United Nations was tell the truth. I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time, and we are not going to let that happen anymore. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations. We just got back from Geneva, talking about the Human Rights Council and hopefully it will be a new day at the Human Rights Council when it comes to Israel.”

She concluded by saying she was greatly looking forward to her visit to Israel and said, “I am looking forward to taking in the history, the beauty, the tradition, and all that comes with the magic of Israel. Thank you very much for having me it is a pleasure to be here.”

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

Friday was a beautiful late spring day; the gardens were lovely, the weather was fine; the guests were elegantly attired; the refreshments were generous and delicious; all the makings of a happy celebration marking the National Day of Sweden. H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, ambassador of Sweden to the State of Israel, hosted the event at the ambassadorial residence in Herzlia Pituach.

The event was attended by many Swedish nationals living in Israel; Swedish music, Swedish food, Swedish sponsors and a generous open bar – all the makings of a happy event.

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A fundamentally agricultural holiday, Shavuot commemorates the custom of bringing offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks.

Shavuot, the Holiday of Weeks, is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, along with Pesach and Sukkot. These are the holidays on which the whole Jewish people would come to Jerusalem​ in ancient times, when the Holy Temple was there, and would offer animal and grain sacrifices.

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Tel Aviv Eat presents three evenings of tastings and workshops featuring the region’s leading restaurants and most prominent chefs. Entrance is free (including the chefs’ demonstrations), and tasting portions range in price from NIS 20-35. Doors open each evening at 18.00. There are several performance stages, live music, and stands selling beer.

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"Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who had endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust, only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating." President Donald J. Trump

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The Charles Bronfman Auditorium at Habima Square is one of the centerpieces of the Israeli arts and cultural scene, home to the Israel Philharmonic for the last 60 years. On Friday, May 19th, it was home to yet another historic event, with the dedication of the entrance hall to Miri Shitrit of blessed memory.

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President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin today, (Monday), welcomed President of the United States Donald J. Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump on arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and then at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

On his arrival at the President’s Residence, President Trump signed the official guest book and wrote, “It is such a great honor to be in Israel and be with all of my great friends”.

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  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Monday, 22 May 2017), at Ben-Gurion International Airport, welcomed US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with an honor guard.

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The EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, on 17 May to discuss Israel's
successful participation in Horizon 2020, European Union's research and innovation funding programme.

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