To lose a spouse is devastating. To lose a spouse to assassination is grief beyond words. Perhaps this is why Director/Writer Amos Gitai joined forces with co-writer Marie-Jose Sanselme to incorporate music into Leah Rabin’s story. Songs often reach the soul in ways that mere words cannot. The result of this collaboration is Yitzhak Rabin: Chronicle of an Assassination. The 90 minute play, featuring music by J.S. Bach, Jurg Frey, Louis Lewandowski, and Luigi Nono made its North American premiere last Wednesday night at Alice Tully Hall. It is part of the Lincoln Center Festival, currently running through July 30th.
The simple, but elegant staging features Sarah Adler and Einant Weizman, both as Leah Rabin. The pair take turns reading a combination of Leah Rabin’s actual words and reciting lines from great literary works. Simultaneously, images of the late, slain Prime Minister are projected onto the stage. It is set days before and following the public murder of Israel’s leader.
In 1993, Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords in Washingtion D.C. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat also signed the agreement. Both men sought to bring peace to their region. Two years later, 200,000 gathered in the Kings of Israel square for a rally for peace. As he was leaving, the Prime Minister was shot point blank by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist who felt as though Rabin had sold out the state of Israel.
What works so beautifully here is the pensive nature by which Gitai and Sanselme approach the material. In the wrong hands, it could be an exploitative exercise. Yet through mournful musical selections by Pianist Edna Stern, violinist Alexey Kochetkov and soprano Keren Motseri there is room for beautiful reflection—not of the assassination, but rather on the peaceful accomplishment achieved in the short time. Would it have remained had Rabin’s life not been extinguished?
The theoretical question-along with the conflict-remains. While art can’t necessarily heal, it does provide a balm of hope, reminding us that eternal peace is more than a quixotic flight of fancy.
The Lincoln Center Festival continues through this weekend. For more information, visit: http://www.lincolncenter.org/lc-festival.