Elam Rotem: Rappresentatione di Giuseppe e i suoi Fratelli
Joseph and his Brethren – Musical drama in three acts, composed in the spirit of the early operas for five voices, basso continuo, and instruments

Using the musical language and context of the revolutionary musical Dramas by Cavalieri, Caccini, and Monteverdi, the piece tells the story of Joseph and his brethren – one of the most touching stories of the old testament. The piece was composed especially for ensemble Profeti della Quinta, and is set for five voices, instruments, and basso-continuo. The text is taken directly from the book of Genesis in its original Hebrew (subtitles in various languages are available).  

The piece stresses the implications of taking early music a step further: not only to bring music from the past to the present day, but by acquiring lost skills of music making and attempting to understand the spirit of the time, to create new work of art.

As written in the preface to Emilio de Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo (1600, Rome), the aim of music is to move the feelings of the listeners: "mercy and happiness, crying and laughter" (à pieta e à giubilo; à pianto e à riso"). The Rappresentatione di Giuseppe e i suoi Fratelli follows this ideal, and aims to move the affects of the listeners, even the doubtful ones.

Since 2013 the piece was performed in Berlin, Bremen, Erfurt, Köln, Basel, Binningen, Muri, Geneva, Utrecht, Metz, Innsbruck, Sankt Georgen am Längsee, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.


- Markus Schramek, Tiroler Tageszeitung, 24/9/2019 [highlights translated by Sharon Prushansky] [full article]
"The singers and instrumentalists were telling the biblical story of Joseph in a soul-stirring manner (it can hardly be described less bombastically). The pull of the composition is tremendous; after only a few bars the listeners were completely immersed in the performance. The director Rotem gently waived the threads of the plot on the harpsichord. One rarely experiences such a fascinating Bible reading."

- Bettina Leemann, freiamtplus, 11/06/17 [full article]
“Der Klang und das Zusammenspiel des schweizerisch-israelische Vokalensemble, das dabei entstand, war für die BesucherInnen sehr ergreifend und mitreissend. So hatten sie diese Art von Musik bestimmt noch nie erlebt.“

- Johan van Veen, Toccata Magazine 85/2016
"A very special example of ‘New early music’ is the Rappersentatione di Giuseppe e i suoi fratelli by Elam Rotem… he has achieved a remarkable thing. This work is not a mere stylistic copy: Rotem has created, with means of early 17th century music,  a thoroughly original work which is worth listening to. It is an enrichment of the Repertoire... Both from a musical and dramatic perspective it is definitely worthwhile to have the work performed in concert halls, so that people interested in ancient music will get to know it. The work is portrayed with great power of persuasion."

- Noam Ben-Zeev, HAARETS, 28/03/14 [translated by Uri Golomb]
"In their new CD, the vocal ensemble 'Profeti della Quinta' present a dramatic, path-breaking work, which transcends historical and geographical boundaries. 'Joseph and his Brethren' is both a precious relic of the past and a new, innovative opera."

- Pamela hickman's concert critique blog 23/12/12
“It is rare in life to attend a musical event, leaving speechless with emotion and filled with a sense of awe at having experienced rare artistry of the highest level.”

- Yossi Schifman, Radio Reshet Bet 26/12/12 [translated by Simon Mac Hale]
“Joseph and his Brethren, in a brilliant performance by the Profeti della Quinta, is a ‘first of its kind’ experience which definitely marks a new path.”

- Amir Kidron, MUSIC4AWHILE, 26/12/12 [translated by Simon Mac Hale]
“The Israeli premiere of Joseph and his Brethren, as anticipated, revealed itself as one of the most important events of the season – if not the most important.”

- Hagay Hitron, HAARETS, 27/12/12 [translated by Simon Mac Hale]
“The result achieved by Rotem is stimulating and exciting. It is a combination of this wonderful story- which is an extremely dramatic one, the Biblical Hebrew (accurately enunciated), and thoughtfully composed music. This well-known story gained significant amplification through the, at times, spine-tingling music.”

- Uri Golomb, Iowa Public Radio Classical, 13/10/2015 [full article]
“He has not only mastered the technique of the music he studies and performs, he has also entered fully into its spirit ... These two new releases [Rappresentatione di Giuseppe and Quia Amore Langueo] demonstrate how intensely dramatic and sensuous the musical results can be ... Both in the Biblical texts and in Rotem’s settings, there is a sense of unflinching honesty. This is not to deny the music’s rich beauty – there are some ravishingly sensuous passages. But the dramatic peaks pack a considerable punch, intensified by the performers’ complete identification with text and music alike... Rotem thus reveals the continued dramatic and moral relevance of Biblical narrative and stile  rappresentativo alike, through compositions permeated by a sense of vitality, dramatic bite and sensuous beauty. Whatever its historical roots, his is an exciting new voice. Let us hope it will continue to engage and enthrall listeners for years to come.”
PAN CLASSICS, 2014 (PC 10302)
Elam Rotem is a Harpsichordist, composer and singer. He specialized in historical performance practice at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, and graduated with a master’s degree in continuo playing and another in improvisation and composition, focusing on the vocal and instrumental music of the 16th and 17th centuries. Currently, Rotem is working on his PhD thesis, within a new collaborative program between the Schola Cantorum in Basel and the University of Würzburg, Germany. His research focuses on the first operas and musical dramas in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century.