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Teenager Brings Opera to Seniors

Aug. 28, 2002

Becky Eisenstadt, 17, has mixed her voice with business and musical notes with senior citizens.

Becky created a program, “The Opera Comes to You” to bring opera to seniors who are unable to see performances due to limitations such as time, distance or inconvenience.

“It’s great for a young talented woman to share her talents with seniors. It means a lot to them,” said Linda Wechsler, director of the seniors’ lunch program of the JCC satellite. “Music expands their horizons, as well as brings back old memories. Music is a great way to bridge the gap between youth and seniors.”

BECKY WAS FIRST inspired to create her program last June, when singing opera in a school talent show. Even though Becky won first prize, she said she most remembers a grandmother of one of the students approaching her after the show. The grandmother related how moved and delighted she was by Becky’s performance, but complained how she never got an opportunity to go to the Kennedy Center anymore.

“Seeing the joy in that woman’s face was one of my inspirations to start the program,” said Becky.

Becky developed her idea further through support from her grandparents, Revelyn and Jack Eisenstadt of Silver Spring, who attend all of her performances. Becky accompanied her family in search of a retirement home for her grandparents.

“I noticed they could use a little life and entertainment,” said Becky.

Becky and her mother Merry Eisenstadt called local nursing homes and set up dates for performances.

After weeks of rehearsal, Becky gave her first performance to seniors at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Aspen Hill.

“As a parent it’s heartwarming to see a child who reaches out to people. She is the kid you find in the hallways consoling another student,” said Merry Eisenstadt, Becky’s mother. “I feel proud of her for taking her love of arts and sharing it with other people.”

AFTER EACH PERFORMANCE, Becky visits with the seniors. She remembers talking to an elderly man, Max Gelfand, who asked to have his picture taken with her.

“He said he wanted to remember the day,” said Becky, a senior at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville who has been involved with all her school performances since middle school.

Becky’s made the dean’s list three years straight and serves as a Hebrew language tutor. She takes voice study at the Washington Conservatory of Music.

Catherine Huntress-Reeve, Becky’s instructor at the Washington Conservatory of Music, describes Becky as, “a lovely and engaging performer. She is able to communicate through her ‘engine’ in an unusually direct way.”

While Becky has no definite plans to continue her program next summer, she said she’d love to keep the program going, even if she is unable to perform herself, by inviting other performers to join her.

“I want to go to college and study theater, preferably musical theater, then Broadway,” said Becky “I know I’ll always be connected to the community, though.”

Becky can be reached by email at beckykeren@aol.com.