Lee Colbert

Lee Colbert (née Leonor Ivy Goldberg, though the surname was changed in the 1950's) was born in New York of a Jewish Russian-Polish family, and grew up in Buenos Aires, where she studied piano and voice with Violeta Hemsy de Gainza and Susana Naidich, and composition at the Universidad Católica Argentina. She graduated from Berklee College of Music, Boston, in 1982 (Bachelor of Music, Magna Cum Laude). She specialized in voice with Walter Blazer (N.Y.), Antonia Brown (Florence) and Massimo Sardi (Fiesole), and was awarded her Diploma in Vocal Studies by the Italian Conservatory in 1988, under the supervision of Lucia Vinardi (Rome). She has lived in Italy for over thirty years.

Lee's repertoire includes all kinds of vocal styles (except, perhaps, heavy metal!): folk, rock, opera, chamber music, contemporary, popular, the musical and jazz. Since 1992 she has specialized in the Yiddish popular songbook, the traditional Argentine Tango, the music of Astor Piazzolla and other composers at the "crossroads" of classical and popular music such as Kurt Weill, Nino Rota, etc..

In 1996 she was engaged by Moni Ovadia as singer/actress in his StageOrchestra (sole regular female member of the company) and has worked with him in the following shows, touring all over Italy and abroad: Ballata di Fine Millennio, Il Caso Kafka, Mame,Mamele,Mamma...Il Crepuscolo delle Madri (produced by the Piccolo Teatro di Milano/CRT-Artificio), Tevye un Mir (prod. Idearte, Palermo, 2000/01) and Il Banchiere Errante;Finanzieri e Mendicanti (prod. CRT-Artificio, Milano, 2001/02).

In 1999 she published her first solo CD "Reyzele", an album of Yiddish songs produced by Moni Ovadia (Sensible Records, Milan).

November 2002 saw the opening of the first Italian production ever of the world-famous musical "Fiddler on the Roof"directed by Moni Ovadia (prod. L'Artistica, Pavia) who starred as Tevye the milkman. Lee co-starred as Golde, his wife, and was vocal and choral coordinator for the production, which toured all over Italy in the 2002/ 2003 and 2003/2004 seasons with enormous success.

In the Summer of 2004, Lee was featured artist at the MittelFest, the important festival of Mitteleuropean culture held every year at Cividale del Friuli in north-eastern Italy. Both with her own Yiddish Song Recital and as featured singer with Moni Ovadia's StageOrchestra, Lee received both public and critical acclaim.

Ovadia's show, "Es iz Amerike!: What can you do, that's America!", opened in January 2005, once again co-starring Lee Colbert. The show toured Italy extensively during the 2005/2006 season.

Lee's second solo CD album was released in March 2006 by the new label "Zone di Musica" (Rome). The album "Zumertsayt"(Summertime) is a journey from the great Yiddish songwriters of the old world to the classics of such Jewish-American authors as Gershwin, Berlin, Bernstein, etc., including a rare version of the Gershwin standard "Summertime" in Yiddish.

Lee once again co-starred in Moni Ovadia's "Le Storie del Signor Keuner" from Brecht's book by the same name, which the famous Italian artist directed together with Roberto Andò. The show opened at the 2006 edition of MittelFest. It toured Italy in the seasons of 2006/2007 and 2007/2008.

The same edition of MittelFest also hosted the concert "Kabarett&Cabaret" with pianist Lorena Portalupi, a proposal containing an interesting and varied repertoire of Cabaret Songs by classical composers from Weill and Schönberg to Satie and Britten which was very well received by both audiences and press.

Other shows by Moni Ovadia in which Lee Colbert has co-starred are "La Bella Utopia" (2007/2008/2009), "Binario 21" a television production for the Commemoration of the Shoah which was produced and broadcast by RAI Italian Television, and "Shylock, il Mercante di Venezia in prova", a theatre production based on "The Merchant of Venice" and written by Ovadia and Roberto Andò. "Shylock" opened in the Summer of 2009 at the prestigious Shakespearean Festival of Verona (Italy), held at the Teatro Romano. After an immensely successful first season tour (2009/2010), "Shylock" continued its tour through Italy and Switzerland from November 2010 till March 2011.

Other musical projects Lee has been involved in recently include the Duo with pianist Lorena Portalupi, with a repertoire of Yiddish, Sephardi and Israeli songs especially conceived for the Giornata della Memoria (Commemoration of the Shoah); the Adar Quartet with pianist Andrea Gottfried, clarinetist Anton Dressler and mandolinist Avi Avital; the Duo with pianist and composer Corrado Fantoni within the framework of his Tzemach Nigun Project.
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