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Matt Haimovitz set for world premiere of Tapestry Opera's 'Jacqueline' / CJN

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When Matt Haimovitz performs at the world premiere of Tapestry Opera's Jacqueline: a portrait of virtuosity, the audience can anticipate music that resonates with the poignant timbre of the famed cellist's intimate association with Jacqueline du Pré as her young protégé. Rising from a young prodigy herself, to peak fame as one of the world's greatest virtuosi and ultimately succumbing to a tragic finale, English cellist du Pré was recognized in her prime as an exquisitely talented female soloist.

At the heart of du Pré's life, strings a loving relationship with celebrated pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim that blossomed in Israel. The story goes that in 1967 – while the couple were performing concerts before, during and after the Six-Day War – du Pré felt such an overwhelming connection to Judaism as a musician that she converted to Judaism to marry Barenboim. Tragedy struck in 1971 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died at 42 in October 1987 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Golders Green in London. 

As Haimovitz explains that the opera portrays du Pré's struggle with an illness that stole her identity, her musical gift and life, his blue eyes reflect a genuine adoration of du Pré simultaneously with his great love for the instrument.

Haimovitz's relationship with du Pré grew from a serendipitous phone call during Passover in New York when he was 13.

He recalls, "(Itzhak) Perlman said, ‘Can you come over, because Daniel Barenboim is here and we'd love to play some chamber music.' I took the bus. I played the "Brahms E-Minor Sonata" with Daniel, not realizing the emotional importance of the moment. That was the first time he had played with another cellist since Jacqui had become sick. Daniel was so overwhelmed, he lifted me up, gave me a big hug, and invited me to work with him on various sonata repertoires and concerti. A year later, he invited me to make my European debut as he conducted the English Chamber Orchestra in London at the Barbican."

Tapestry Opera's Jacqueline runs at the Betty Oliphant Theatre from Feb. 19 – 23.