Israeli soprano sings in &8216;Fiddler on the Roof&8217;

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; When Shiree Kidron lifts her lyric soprano voice to sing &8220;Far from the Home I Love&8221; in &8220;Fiddler on the Roof&8221; today and Saturday, she will sing with real, not imagined emotion.

Kidron, in the role of the middle sister, Hodel, daughter of the poor Jewish milkman Tevye, said the role perfectly suits her, as she is indeed far from her home in Israel and, like Hodel, has left her parents to go far away to pursue her dream.

The Natchez Festival of Music will present &8220;Fiddler on the Roof&8221; at 8 p.m. today and Saturday at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center on Homochitto Street.

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Tickets are $20, $35 and $45 and are available at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours in the Visitor Reception Center or at the door prior to the performance.

Dr. David Blackburn, founding director of the festival, said he promised Natchez from the very beginning of the festival 16 years ago that he would bring the best talent in America to the event.

&8220;I can honestly say that this is a stellar cast and their performance will be as good as you would see on Broadway,&8221; Blackburn said.

In addition to Kidron, principal singer-actors will be Ron Loyd as Tevye, Kathleen Sasnett as Golde, Erin Shields as Chava, Erin Murphy as Yente, David Schmidt as Perchik and David Kelleher Flight as Motel.

Some of the famous songs from the musical include &8220;If I Were a Rich Man,&8221; &8220;Matchmaker, Matchmaker&8221; and &8220;Sunrise, Sunset.&8221;

The story of &8220;Fiddler&8221; is based upon a 1949 work by a Russian author. The plot centers on Tevye&8217;s trials as he tries to keep family and religious traditions intact in a time of social change in a small Jewish town in Tsarist Russia in 1905.

Kidron said she had dreamed that one day she would have a role in &8220;Fiddler on the Roof.&8221;

&8220;It&8217;s interesting how I identify with the role I do in the show,&8221; she said. &8220;It is so natural for me.&8221;

Kidron grew up in a small town in northern Israel. Her father is a rocket scientist with the defense agency. Her mother is a retired special education teacher and is a writer. Her one brother also is in the United States, working as a computer scientist in Silicon Valley.

Becoming a singer was not in her plan as she entered the first phase of her serious musical training.

&8220;I started out in jazz as an electric guitarist,&8221; she said. &8220;Everyone kept telling me that I ought to be singing, but I didn&8217;t have that interest.&8221;

Finally, however, almost on a whim, she entered a big vocal competition and won.

As part of the prize, she went to London, England, and for the first time saw an opera, &8220;Carmen,&8221; and a stage show, &8220;Phantom of the Opera.&8221;

&8220;That was it. I knew that&8217;s what I wanted to do. I changed my major to vocal art,&8221; Kidron said.

She entered a program sponsored by Israeli Opera and studied with the renowned coach Joan Dorneman. &8220;She told me I ought to do my master&8217;s degree at Manhattan School of Music,&8221; Kidron said.

She took the advice and went to New York City to attend school. Her mentor had given her good advice.

&8220;I was so lucky to choose that place. I had the most amazing teachers. It was the best place for me to be at the time,&8221; she said.

She excelled at the school, starred in the production of &8220;Beauty and the Beast&8221; and doors opened for her to do other amazing things.

Now 28, she has her career choices before her and has leanings toward opera but loves musical theater as well.

Her goal? &8220;I want to be a very good artist and to perform all over the world in interesting roles,&8221; she said. &8220;I want to get better and better.&8221;

Natchez and the Natchez festival have pleased her, Kidron said. &8220;I&8217;m amazed at the hospitality of the place,&8221; she said. &8220;It&8217;s my first time in the South, and it&8217;s really wonderful.&8221;

The talented singers and directors work together well, she said. &8220;The people who organize the festival are wonderful, talented people. It&8217;s just a joy.&8221;