Arts and war

I wrote a few words I wanted to share with my audience at my concert tomorrow, to include in my program, and I realized I wanted to share them here as well:

I planned this program for a concert scheduled to take place at the beginning of this month in Tel Aviv, Israel. When I was planning it, there was no way I could know that I would perform it in the midst of a war.

During the nearly two-and-a-half-month period I was in Israel, sirens frequently sounded, warning all of us to seek shelter from the rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip. In fact, one of the missiles we took shelter from was intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense system right above the apartment building I was staying in, creating a loud explosion overhead.

There wasn't (and still isn't) anyone in Israel who isn't personally affected by the war. My cousin was drafted to active military service, as were the brother of one of my friends and the husband of another. Despite all this, many arts events of all kinds went on as scheduled in Israel, including my concert.

This raises the question: Why do we care about something so seemingly frivolous as the performing arts during a time in which our safety is threatened?

The answer is that we still care because the arts are not frivolous at all. Opera, the art form I have chosen to devote myself to as a profession, is unique in that it is the only one in which you get to experience the emotional and physical power of the unamplified human voice—whether you are singing yourself or whether you are sitting in the audience. Without anything to alter the voice—such as microphones and amplifiers—the singer is uniquely exposed and the audience deeply engaged.

During the war, we all were constantly exposed to the ways in which people could be at their most inhumane, both through hearing the booms of intercepted missiles and from watching the news on TV. During a time such that, it seemed more crucial than ever to experience the humanity we all share—in this instance, through the combination of the power and vulnerability of the human voice.

With all this in mind, we present tonight's concert to you in the hope that these masterpieces touch your heart and renew your spirit.