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Movie Review: Finding Eleazar: Portrait of a Tenor and a Role

Alternate Title: Tenor, anyone?

Story: No, this is not the sequel to Finding Nemo. This documentary is about tenor, Neil Shicoff, who brings the character Eleazar to life in Fromental Halevy's opera La Juive (The Jewess). First produced in the 19th century it was performed over 500 times until 1936 when the Nazis banned it. It was not until 1999 that it was brought back to thrill audiences around the world. And Neil Shicoff is Eleazar.

This film by Paula Heil Fisher not only gives deep background about Shicoff and the opera but she also is producing a music video to accompany the opera directed by Sidney Lumet. So we get a behind the scenes look at two productions.

Shicoff is charming and undiva-like. He refers to himself as the "Woody Allen of Opera" You do not have to like opera to enjoy this very contemporary themed opera. It is as relevant in today's tortured world as it was 250 years ago.

Acting: Neil Shicoff is endearing as the tenor.

Predilection: I had seen the opera at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003 with my good friend and we loved both it and Neil Shicoff. We saw this film at the Tribeca Film Festival that same year and loved it as well. I have been waiting and waiting for it to be released. While it has been edited a bit it still worked for us.

Food: No food, but lots of beer.

Soundtrack: Music to the ear.

Visual Art:The contemporary staging to the production is wonderful

Theater Audience: About 20 opera lovers.

Tissue Usage: I did not need a tissue but I noticed my pal did dab her eyes once or twice.

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: If you can find it it is worth a trip to the theater.

Length: 85 minutes.