‘Finding Eléazar’


Neil Shicoff is an opera star the way stars were meant to be: talented, intense, and unhinged. There was the time he got so Methodical as Carmen‘s gypsy- stabbing Don José that the mezzo-soprano wound up in the hospital. After that, and a nervous breakdown onstage at the Met, he didn’t work in the U.S. for the better part of a decade. Finding Eléazar skips all that unpleasantness and catches the Brooklyn-born tenor in rehearsals for Fromental Halévy’s 1835 rarity La Juive (The Jewess). A cantor’s son with humongous father issues and an even bigger high B flat, Shicoff—who calls himself the “Woody Allen of opera”—was born to play the meshuga daddy Eléazar. But this documentary is little more than a making-of sidebar to Sidney Lumet’s music video of Shicoff’s Act IV show-stopper (the video itself isn’t shown, except for a few snippets). Only true opera diehards will appreciate the backstage psychodrama, a catalog aria of the singer’s multiple neuroses.

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