Book and Lyrics by Elise Thoron
Conceived by Rebecca Bayla Taichman & Elise Thoron
Music by Frank London
Green Violin tells the story of the passionate friendship and artistic collaboration between Marc Chagall and Solomon Mikhoels, the extraordinary leading actor of the first Soviet Yiddish Theater (GOSET). The collision of these two men's talents created the unique theatrical style of this extraordinary theater, for which Chagall painted murals in Moscow in 1920. Mikhoels embodied Chagall's paintings in his characters on stage. Despite the theater's success, Chagall left the Soviet Union in 1923 to pursue a prolific career in the West, while Mikhoels stayed in Moscow developing Yiddish theater despite increasing political pressures. They met again in Paris (1927), when the theater was on tour in Europe, and later in New York during the War (1943). Mikhoels was sent to by Stalin to raise money from American Jewish organizations for the Soviet Red Army's campaign against Hitler.
Green Violin focuses on the choices Chagall and Mikhoels make in light of their art and the turbulent times they lived in. It weaves in sections of performances from the GOSET's repertory ranging from Sholem Aleichem's the Agents, (for which Chagall designed the set), to a Yiddish King Lear. In 1948, Mikhoels was murdered by Stalin, signaling the beginning of a devastating purge that ended the lives of many involved in the GOSET. With an exhilarating score by Frank London of the "Klezmatics," Green Violin creates the magical, topsy-turvy world of a Chagallian painting. The moving fate of Solomon Mikhoels and the GOSET is told through the theatricality and metaphors of their own performances. At the end, Chagall remains alone, seeing his mural of dead heroes come to life; hearing their voices and the eternal melody of creation.