On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Jewish Music Series – edited by Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens – Wergo publishes with “Di Eybike Mame“ the first CD anthology of recordings featuring women of the Yiddish stage. This carefully edited production with the rare 78 rpm recordings documents the enormous variety of music present during the period 1890-1930, from folksong to music hall and vaudeville, liturgical song to operetta and musical comedy. The booklet includes a detailed essay on Yiddish theater music and the role of women in Yiddish popular song. Despite prohibitions in traditional Judaism against the singing of women in the presence of men, biblical figures such as Miriam and Deborah stand for a female contribution to music within Jewish history. In the 20th century, singers like Sophie Kurtzer, Shaindele and Batsheva dedicated themselves to the Jewish liturgy. Ironically known as "khazntes" (lit. “cantors’ wives”), they were compelled to practice their art outside of the synagogue on vaudeville stages and remained exceptions to the rule - despite a stylistic closeness to the great male cantors such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Gershon Sirota. Yiddish popular songs depicted a great variety of women’s roles, including not only deceived girls, deserted wives and long-suffering mothers, but also suffragettes, adulteresses and eccentric spinsters. Its stars - often singer, actress, dancer and impresario all rolled up into one - charmed the Jewish world from Warsaw to Buenos Aires and played an important role in the expansion of gender roles. The singer and actress Bertha Kalish from Lemberg was compared favorably to the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, and Regina Prager’s voice could have held its own with that of a Wagnerian heroine. Isa Kremer set new standards with her art song interpretations of Yiddish folksongs, the tomboyish Molly Picon wrote her own lyrics, and melodramatic Jennie Goldstein managed her own theater at the age of 16. Even today one encounters the odd 80 year-old retiree who is still enraptured by the sex appeal of Nellie Casman.
Helene Gespass: Lekht bentshn (Blessing of the Candles) Fräulein Rubinstein: Gevald, gevald Police (Help, Help, Police) Frau Pepi Littmann: Oylom habu (The World to Come) Regina Prager: Aria Salcia Weinberg: A brivele der mamen (A Letter to Mother) Regina Zuckerberg: Gebet far der khupe (Prayer before the wedding ceremony) Mme. Zwiebel (Frida Zwiebel-Goldstein): Bas Yerusholayim (The Daughter of Jerusalem) Jeanne Feinberg: Rozhinkes mit mandlen (Raisins and Almonds) Anna Hoffman: A kind un a heym (A Homeless Child) Estella Schreiner: Dos fartribene taybele (The Exiled Dove) Clara Gold: Ale vayber megn shtimen (All Women Can vote) Fanny Schreiber: A bisl yoysher (A Bit of Justice) Bessie Weisman: Vu iz mayn Yukel? (Where is My Yukel?) Nellie Casman: A brivel tsu mayn man (A Letter to My Husband) Molly Picon: Tsipke Yetta Zwerling: Yankele karmantshik (Yankele “Little Pickpocket”) Lady Cantor Madam Sophie Kurtzer (Adeser Khaznte, Cantor from Odessa): Kiddush Mme. Bertha Kalish: Shabes, yontef un roshkhoydesh (Sabbath, Holiday and the New Moon) Jennie Goldstein: Vu iz mayn kind? (Where Is My Child?) Isa Kremer: Dem rebns moyfsim (The Rebbe’s Miracles) Annie Lubin: Annie, ikh shtarb avek nukh dir (Annie, I’m Dying for You) Lucy Levin: Di Primadonna Lucy German: Di eybike mame (The Eternal Mother)