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A Cabaret and A Lesson

This weekend brings a novel entertainment in the form of a benefit concert for Crescendo, the choral and instrumental ensemble specializing in early and contemporary music. The Secret Life of Opera Singers is a humorous, musical behind-the-scenes look at an aspiring opera singer, performed by up-and-coming professional contralto and comedienne Imelda Franklin Bogue, accompanied by Anne Voglewede Green. Billed as cabaret, the performance introduces listeners to classic opera repertoire by composers such as Bizet, Verdi, and Rossini. The event takes place Feb. 25, 4 p.m. at Trinity Church Lime Rock (on Route 112 in Lakeville, CT, opposite the race track). Benefit tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.worldclassmusic.org or at the door. For information, call (860) 435-4866. In a different vein, Lakeville composer Donald Sosin has revived his 1977 one-act children’s opera, “Esther,” which tells the Purim story, focusing on Esther’s central role. It will be performed the weekend before Purim in Salisbury and repeated in Amherst, MA. The performance is produced by Sosin’s Farmouse Window Productions in association with Grumbling Gryphons, the award-winning, Cornwall-based children’s theater company founded by Leslie Elias. The production honors the 100th anniversary of Hadassah, the Jewish women’s charitable organization. The lyrics are by children’s writer Sari Magaziner. The cast includes Chelsea Friedlander, Jennifer Barsamian, John-Andrew Fernandez, Vince Vincent and Victor Khodadad; the composer’s son, Nick Sosin, narrates, and Donald Sosin directs. According to the story told in the Biblical Book of Esther, Queen Vashti, wife of King Ahasuerus, refuses to “display her beauty” (disrobe, presumably) before her drunken husband and guests and is dismissed. Esther, a Jewish woman, wins a beauty contest to replace her. She hides her Jewish identity from the king. Meanwhile, she and Mordecai learn of a plot by the king’s minister, Haman, to kill all the Jews of the kingdom. Esther reveals that she is Jewish, at great personal risk, and the king also learns that Mordecai had earlier foiled a plot to assassinate him. Ahasuerus sends Haman to his death, and the rest of Haman’s allies are defeated. Sosin’s score is tuneful and jaunty, never saccharine. In parts it has overtones of Sondheim-like Broadway, and at others sophisticated but not inaccessible harmonies. The first performance is at the Salisbury Congregational Church Saturday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. The next day, Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m., “Esther” will be performed at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for members and free for students and children 18 and under. A free pre-show workshop for children age 6 and older will be offered both days, at noon, by the Grumbling Gryphons.

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