"Got bentsh Amerike, land vos Ikh lib
Shtey-zhe bay ir, madrikh zay ir
Iberal laykht a shtral undz tsulib."
Yes, God bless America, for where else could you produce an entire CD of Broadway star Mandy Patinkin singing in Yiddish -- and then turn it into a theatrical concert? The singer/actor's latest album, "Mamaloshen," released on Nonesuch Records Feb. 24, mixes Yiddish standards ("Oyfn Pripetshik," "Belz," "Raisins and Almonds") with translated American numbers (Paul Simon's "American Tune," "Take Me Out To The Ballgame.")
The Mamaloshen concert has recently been extended. Originally scheduled to run through Aug. 8, it will now run an additional two weeks until Aug. 22.
For tickets to Mamaloshen, which runs at Off-Broadway's Orensanz Foundation Center, July 21-Aug. 22, call (212) 239-6200.
On the CD, Judith Blazer (Titanic) joined on some tunes, while violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays on a medley of "The Old Gypsy" and "White Christmas" (penned by the very un-goyish, Irving Berlin). On stage, Patinkin will be joined by violinist Saeka Matsuyama and pianist Eric Stern. Said Patinkin in a statement, "Yiddish is not a religious language; it's a street language... It's not my intention to literally trace the history of Jewish or Yiddish music...but I have always been interested in what Jewish musicians and composers have done to assimilate."
For the compact disc, arranger Paul Ford helped the singer assemble a team of translators and language coaches to bring Patinkin back to his Yiddish roots - a suggestion first made to him by mentor Joseph Papp.
On CD, Mamaloshen (which literally means "mother tongue") was produced by Tommy Krasker and taped at NYC's Hit Factory, August 1997. The stage version is produced by Dodger Endemol Theatrical Productions.