Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Fiddler on the Roof
Money magazine recently named our smallish community the 6th most desirable place to live in the U.S. The only weakness cited was in the area of arts and culture. I suppose it is just too easy for suburbanites to drive to the nearby city to partake of these things.
But change is in the air! This past week-end we were treated to the very first performance of a new theatre group in our brand new outdoor amphitheater. It was one of my favorites, Fiddler on the Roof.
I love Tevye's monologues. I love the music. I am just sentimental enough to cry during "Sunrise, Sunset", much to my children's embarrassment. Can't help it~~~I've been a human faucet since hitting my 5th decade. I carry the wad of kleenex that Santa so thoughtfully left in my last Christmas stocking for just such occasions as this.
But beyond the sentiment, I recognized serious questions. How did the move into the 20th century change family tradition? The play highlights the arrival of the first sewing machine in the village, which was reverently embraced by the people. Little did they understand the impending changes the industrial revolution would bring.
One of Tevye's daughters was a reader, which was a huge break with tradition. Reading had been the sole right of men. Her reading led her to marry a social activist, resulting in her leaving the village of her birth and to move far away from her family. Another huge change for people who were used to being firmly rooted in the village of their birth.
I have ordered the book on which Fiddler on the Roof is based, called Tevye the Dairyman by Sholem Aleichem. It is a book of Tevye's monologues, written by a Yiddish humorist. Can't wait to dive into this!
Addressing the musical aspect of the play: Fiddler on the Roof was extremely well received in America. The thousands of Jewish immigrants who entered this country via the portal of Ellis Island left their mark on us musically. The peculiar harmonic minor scale that is unique to Jewish music became a part of our culture, and also forms a basis for jazz music. Consider some of the notable Jewish musicians of the last century: Gershwin, Bernstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Dorothy Fields.
How rich we are to have so many flavors of music blended in our "melting pot".