The 19th-century French opera La Juive—about a Jewish man who sees his family destroyed by religious persecution—was banned in 1938 as part of the Nazis' suppression of Jewish art. Paula Heil Fisher's documentary details the show's 2003 rebirth, which attempts to make the old-world struggles of the opera's central character resonate in modern times. The film strains to show tenor Neil Shicoff (also a Jew) identifying with his character on a deeply personal level. Yet the singer's main source of turmoil seems not to be his religion, but his intense performance anxiety. As a result, it's the filmmakers—who have also edited themselves into an oddly substantial portion of the footage—who end up looking desperate.
Paula Heil Fisher