Rhapsody for Golda
A multi character – one-woman musical about Golda Meir
Book & Lyrics by Sharon Ohrenstein
Music by David & Sharon Ohrenstein
A girl named Golda, armed with only a belief in herself and the cause of Zionism, embarks on what becomes a heroine’s journey to build, shape, and save Israel.
A Spirit guide named Zion helps her through relationships, heartbreaks, and the defeat of her inner fears and outer enemies.
This original musical by Sharon and David Ohrenstein was first presented at the SaraSolo Festival in 2017 as a one-woman presentation.
With encouragement from many professionals, Sharon and David began targeted rewrites. They streamlined the story, cut numbers, added others, sharpened lyrics, and created more theatrical/musical arrangements.
All that work paid off when their newly rewritten “Rhapsody For Golda” received audience raves and standing ovations at the 2022 SaraSolo SpringFest.
The musical was immediately booked in the 2022-2023 Season at The Players Centre co-produced by the Sarasota Jewish Theater and SaraSolo Productions.
The November packed houses continued the raves and ovation.
Sharon plays a storyteller who takes on six different
characters to bring Golda’s incredible journey from a youth in Russia, school years in the U.S., struggles living in British Palestine, to the founding of Israel and becoming its Fourth and only female Prime Minister.
Besides accompanying the songs, over 90 motifs from the piano become a seventh character voice. These music cues/motifs – like – “Old MacDonald”, “Rule Britannia”, “The Washington Post March” – are used for mood, comedy, underscores, and character changes.
At the piano is composer David.
The minimalist set and overall artistic approach re-enforce the theme,” If you will it, it is no dream”. Much can be done with little.
The storyteller invites the audience into the world of Goldie Mabovitch – the shtetl of Pinsk, Czarist Russia. 1903.
Watching her five-year-old daughter nearly trampled by Cossacks, Golda’s mother decides the family must leave Russia.
The spirit Zion calls out to attract settlers to the Promised Land. He likes little Goldalah and decides to watch after her even though, her family settles in Milwaukee.
Fourteen-year-old Golda is incensed that her parents won’t let her become a teacher and have picked a husband for her. She runs away to Denver to live with her married sister, Sheyna.
In Denver, Golda becomes engaged to Morris Meyerson and learns about Zionism – the desire of Jews to build a new nation in Palestine. For family reasons, she returns to Milwaukee. Morris promises to wait for her.
Now, 18 yrs. and a teacher, Golda decides to move to Zion/British Palestine and help build a safe homeland. Morris marries her.
Zion is thrilled when Golda and Morris arrive in Tel Aviv. Golda’s dream of living on a kibbutz comes true when they are accepted into Merhavia.
Golda loves the kibbutz life. After Morris gets malaria three times, they have to leave.
The couple settle in Jerusalem and have a boy and a girl. But their marriage isn’t working and affording food is difficult. Zion asks God to intervene. Golda gets a job with the governing Histadrut and moves to Tel Aviv with both children.
Six-year-old Sarah suffers near kidney failure, so Golda gets a job and takes the children to New York for new treatments. Sarah is cured and the family returns to Tel Aviv.
Golda rises within the Histadrut, begins to travel internationally, and stays silent about rumored love affairs. Zion watches in horror as World War II decimates six million Jews.
Golda’s mood is midnight blue. She decides to fight the British quota and help bring in all survivors wanting to immigrate to Palestine/ Zion.
Zion dances around Golda when the UN votes to partition British Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The celebration ends when Golda learns of the Arab League’s declaration of war when Israel becomes a state.
Golda raises 50 million dollars in the US for Israel’s defense. Returning home, Golda suffers a heart attack. Her long-term married lover David Remez proposes.
A furious and jealous Zion barely notices when Israel becomes a state. He whispers in Prime Minister Ben-Guion’s ear. The lovers are separated, and Golda is out of war’s way when she is appointed Minister to Moscow.
Golda is hurt and angered that she can’t help with the war effort AND is omitted from the Cabinet because she is a woman. Golda vows to open the eyes of men in power and more – all eyes.
Twenty years pass. Golda (with a Hebrewized last name) Meir is the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. When Egypt and Syria unexpectedly attack on Yom Kippur, Golda leads Israel from defeat by convincing the US to deliver a massive airlift and ordering the victorious counter offensive.
Despite being re-elected, a tired Golda steps down. Her dream for a safe homeland begins when a peace treaty is signed with Egypt.
Visiting a school, Golda advises students to create their best selves, and work hard to turn their “tiny sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
A romantic opera in two acts
music by David Ohrenstein & Sharon Ohrenstein
libretto by Sharon Ohrenstein
Daring, intrigue, and romance fill this story as Cleopatra inspires the villainous Octavian to change his ways.
Victorious Roman General Octavian invades Egypt intent on taking Cleopatra back to Rome as his slave and possible wife vowing never to fall in love with her.
Cleopatra intrigues with her two ladies to secure a future for herself, her four children and her country. She will only remarry if Octavian truly loves her.
Their star-crossed paths usher in the golden age of Rome.
Originally written as Octavian & Cleopatra with seven roles, this two-act opera was produced in St. Petersburg and Sarasota (FL) in 2003 and 2005. A thirty-minute version with three roles was folded into THREE QUEENS: Cleopatra, Elizaveta and Golda which was produced in upstate New York and Florida in 2009 and 2011. With feedback from professionals, the work underwent a major rewrite when it was selected to be part of the 2019 American Center for New Works Development at the Seagle Music Festival in the Adirondacks. Currently with five singing roles and a dancer, a summer concert reading was presented in Sarasota before it was workshopped in the fall.
Created as a numbered opera inspired by the popular style of Carmen, PATRA is an intimate opera. The five singing roles showcase different voice types and each role has at least one aria. Set in Alexandria, Egypt in 30 B.C.E., the story takes places in two locations – around Octavian’s stark army tent and in Cleopatra’s royal chambers. Currently scored for piano, this melodic opera can be produced in almost any venue. The plan is to orchestrate it for a small ensemble.
PATRA (39 yrs.) Mezzo-soprano. Cleopatra VII: Pharaoh for nearly 20 years
IRAS (35 – 50 yrs) Soprano. renowned beautician, trusted lady-in-waiting,
CHARMIAN (late 40s to mid 50s) Mezzo-soprano. Senior lady-in-waiting, political advisor.
MARCELLUS (30s to 50s) Tenor. Centurion under Marc Antony’s command
OCTAVIAN (33 yrs) Bass-baritone. Roman Consul and General, Julius Caesar’s nephew /heir
ASET (no particular age) Dancer. The goddess also known as Isis