Shulamis; or, The Daughter of Jerusalem

Translated and adapted from Yiddish Shulamis; oder, Bas Yerushalayim (1883)   by Avrom Goldfadn, the “father of Yiddish theater.”

Spooky, romantic, melancholy operetta in verse. Perhaps most beloved of all Yiddish operettas, this is the source of such familiar songs as the lullaby “Raisins and Almonds,” and a number of rousing choruses.

In ancient Palestine, an aristocrat passing through the desert on his way home to Jerusalem rescues Shulamis, a shepherdess who has fallen into a well. They vow eternal love, with the well and a passing wildcat as their witnesses. He promises to return to marry her but, though she waits faithfully, keeping away all suitors by pretending to be mad, he soon forgets her and marries someone else. However, breaking his vow has terrible consequences for himself, his “second” wife, and their children, and he returns to faithful Shulamis at last.

Based on Talmudic legends and on one of the earliest novels to be written in modern Hebrew.

The translation/adaptation was subsidized in part by a PEN-nominated grant from New York State Council on the Arts.  It was produced in 2010 at Harvard University, with full orchestra and cast, through the cooperation of the Departments of Theatre and Jewish Studies.  The annotated script is to be published, with fully reconstructed score and explanatory essays, in 2012.

Script and permissions are available from Nahma Sandrow.