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Lifting the Curtain

Margie Pensak

She performed in concert halls across the world, but when Elena Tal discovered the vibrancy of Torah, she turned her back on her career as an operatic singer — and created a new one, this time allowing her soul to soar along with the music.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The first time I heard ElenaTal, internationally renowned soprano, she performed for a mother-daughter luncheon on a makeshift stage in the social hall of Baltimore’s Congregation Darchei Tzedek. Accompanied by her pianist, Hui-Chuan Chen, her six- to sixty-year-old audience was mesmerized as she sang in Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, and English. Dressed majestically in a shimmering turquoise jacket with sparkly buttons and a black ballroom-length taffeta skirt, her stage presence and natural charisma shone through as much as her humility. As I left the performance, I heard someone marvel, “What a big sacrifice she made for Yiddishkeit!” Nothing could be further from the truth. When faced with the luminous, effervescent reality of Yiddishkeit, the dazzle of Elena’s life as an opera singer faded into dull monochrome.

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