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Idan Cohen returns to Amherst for innovative production

AMHERST – Israeli choreographer Idan Cohen, who taught at Amherst College in 2012, returned to the area last month as part of a production of “I Capuleti e l Montecchi” (The Capulets and the Montagues), a dance opera presented by Amherst College’s Theater and Dance Department in collaboration with the Idan Cohen Dance Company.

“I Capuleti e l Montecchi,” which was performed at Amherst April 2 and 23, is based on the same Italian sources as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In this version, the Capuleti and Montecchi are rival political factions, and not as described by Shakespeare, “two households, both alike in dignity.” This international production presents a unique collaboration between members of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Lane Swanson, costume and set design by Suzanne P. Dougan and the Israeli dance company founded by Idan Cohen.

Cohen brought eleven members of his prestigious dance company and two of Israel’s most-revered opera singers, Karin Shifrin and Anastasia Klevan, to participate in the performance alongside the orchestra, student dancers, and professional set and lighting designers from the Valley.

Idan first came to Amherst as a Copeland Fellow through an initiative that brings Israeli artists to renowned institutions in the United States, providing opportunities for U.S. audiences to engage with contemporary Israeli culture.

In this dance opera, both the role of Romeo and Juliet were performed by women, Shifrin, a mezzo soprano as Romeo and Klevan, a soprano, as Juliet.

The international cast also included celebrated artists Israeli tenor Eitan Abraham Drori as Tebaldo; Guy Peleg Pelc, baritone, as Capelio; and the American bass-baritone Enrico Lagasca as Lorenzo.

Idan Cohen Dance Company dancers included Naama Tamir, Tomer Giat, Tomer Golan, Coral Friedman, Gal Calic and Dana Zeharia.

The production was supported in part by the Israeli Consulate in New York City; The Pais Foundation in Israel; Asylum Arts, a global network for Jewish Culture; Amherst College Faculty Research Award Program; Amherst College Theater and Dance Department; and a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

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