about contact In_development Past
Rachel Synopsis
Music Video
Directors Notes
Palm Springs
The Rachel Aria
Music Video Synopsis

“Rachel, Quand du Seigneur”
(Rachel, when the Lord’s saving grace”)
from the French Grand Opera “La Juive”
(The Jewess)

The celebrated film director Sidney Lumet’s searing music video of the haunting and beloved aria “Rachel, Quand du Seigneur” from the once-banned opera “La Juive” was filmed on location at Angel Orensanz Foundation, a decommissioned synagogue on New York City’s Lower East Side. Lumet directs renowned tenor Neil Shicoff in the role of Eléazar, transforming a torn and sympathetic character into an extremely fanatical one. For Shicoff the experience proves revelatory, forcing him to confront his own religion but also finding a much deeper message in the music: when people are intolerant everyone suffers. And this message couldn’t be more relevant today. Shicoff says, “If you broaden it (the opera), it’s not just Jewish-Christian. If you turn on CNN, the opera’s all over the place. There is no other opera like that.”

This achingly beautiful aria is arguably the most piercing moment in the opera, and Lumet transports us directly to that moment in time. Eléazar is alone and must decide whether to renounce his Jewish faith and convert to Christianity or face execution. But it is not just his life at stake, but also that of his only child, the young Rachel. It is a father’s struggle with love versus hate; it is a man’s struggle with forgiveness versus revenge. But ultimately, it is a struggle over one’s faith. Eléazar, through the course of the aria, grows increasingly defiant and passionately chooses death. Through Lumet’s eyes, Eléazar chooses God and he takes his daughter with him. Its finality is heart-breaking.