A brand new concept album has been released for new musical drama Soviet Zion has now been released online.
This new feature length operatic radio play tells the story inspired by the curious history of Siberia’s Jewish Autonomous Region.
Featuring a book by Giles Howe with Roberto Trippini and music by Giles Howe and Katy Lipson, this contemporary opera first premiered in concert at the The London Jewish Museum in 2014.
Soviet Zion explores the lives of of pioneers who each move to Siberia participating in the real-life movement to establish there the first Jewish homeland of the modern era – a Yiddish-speaking, socialist utopia. It follows the lives of six intertwining lives to highlight questions of identity integrity, belonging and nationhood.
This thought-provoking and powerful tale follows two contrasting families arriving as pioneers to settle the Far East of Russia just as so many others are preparing to leave behind the social experiment. The experiences of an American girl arriving from Malibu who struggles to adapt to her very different new life contrast with those of another woman who, betrayed by her leaders and manipulated into compromising the man she loves, must strategize carefully her every move. As war rages and their dreams become a nightmare, how will they escape? And where can they call home?
The album stars Kate Radmilovic as Mirele, Kimberly Blake as Zofia, Sam Young as Iser, Joseph Claus as David, Michaela Stern as Bayla, John Ellis as Oskar, Bruno Loxton as the Officer, Toni Green as Yenta/Narrator, David Francis as Joshua. Completing the cast are Naomi Kilby, Michal Ish-Horowitz, and guest vocalist Jeff Kuznicki.
This new version of Soviet Zion features new orchestrations created in collaboration with film-score arranger Brian Freeland using unconventional instruments.
Talking about the album, Creative Director and Co-Producer Giles Howe shares “Produced during the height of the lockdown restrictions, we overcame many unusual challenges in safely bringing to life this ambitious recording.”
Together, Katy Lipson and Giles Howe have previously co-produced 16 live productions of diverse new musicals together. They are committed to championing new writing from around the globe, which was still the case when they started writing Soviet Zion. Giles Howe explained: “We were being sent great works, but few in the style of the epic musicals that most inspire us personally. So we set out to create our own, to honor the music we love most and explore a fascinating history.”
Two releases of the album have been made available.The feature-length operatic radio play The Original Concept Album performed in English, and a bonus release of Yiddish language selections from the show translated by poet Gittel Schwartz, a first-language speaker who grew up in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Satmar community.
Talking about the decision to debut the show as a recording, Katy Lipson said: “Many successful British musicals began life as Concept Albums. “The history this show explores is truly fascinating, and not only to Jewish audiences. We hope this recording will lead to future international productions once live theatre returns to the stage, right now though we are delighted to present Soviet Zion as a thrilling Concept Album with unique bonus material. This distinctive theatrical experience is now available to enjoy at the click of a button.”