How It’s New York:  Judith is performing her dramatic one-woman recital about Molly Bloom, written by husband Michael O’Loughlin,  at one of New York’s most iconic places, Lincoln Center, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, right next to the Metropolitan Opera House.  It’s  part of the New York Public Library of Performing Arts, where, if you ask nicely (i.e., have a plausible reason), you can watch archival tapes of Broadway shows.   Also, New York, like a host of other cities, loves Molly Bloom (see  Bloomsday on Broadway at Symphony Space! June 16)
How It’s Irish:  James Joyce’s Ulysses has become almost the literary equivalent of an anthem to Irish identity, fractured through theatre, readings, music.  Patrick Fitzgerald, who is  the title role in The Shaughraun at Irish Rep through June 12, told us for the May 24 podcast about his show taken from the book,  Gibraltar.  And wonderful Cork actress Eilin O’Dea, who performed in Selected Shorts at Symphony Space, will  perform her own one-woman show, Hello, Molly! there.

It’s hard to classify Judith Mok— as I said to her when I interviewed her (look for it in the podcast which will be up soon!), that if her name weren’t so unusual, you’d swear there had to be two of her.  Because there’s the Judith Mok who writes poetry and novels– her next book, Gods of Babel, comes out soon (she posted about it on Facebook!)— and the Judith Mok who is a classical singer.

But she’s just one person.

She’s Dutch, and has sung opera all over the world.  Her first slightly more than baker’s dozen books were in Dutch, and now she writes in English.  She’s also Jewish, like Molly’s husband in the book.  We had a good chat about that on the podcast, and Jirishness, though most of it won’t air this week as I wanted to focus on the whole “why Molly?” thing. Judith was attracted by the way Molly is an outsider– a woman with a Spanish mother– and a singer.  There are many many musical quotes in the book, and Judith uses some of them in her show.
The piece is, according to the press release:

…based on the character Molly Bloom from James Joyces’ Ulysses. This is a modern, liberated Molly—mother, immigrant, professional singer—escaped from the bed where her creator kept her. This is Molly on stage, telling her own story, singing the music she loves!

The text is entirely original, because of copyright issues (the novel goes into the public domain in Ireland in 2012, so  I predict  a plethora of theatrical and musical adaptations coming soon!)
Video and more after the jump!

Molly’s soliloquy is so well known, and so beloved, that it will be a treat to hear instead her inner life as a would-be diva– sung by an actual operatic soprano.  Dearbhla Collins will accompany on piano.  Judith has also posted on Facebook (this really should inspire all of you to friend her!) that she’s just added a number by Scarlatti to the show– I love that.  That’s something you don’t hear every day.  And, Judith’s planning to add an “American twang”for New York.Her picture and story will be in the History of Music and Musicians of Ireland exhibit at Lincoln Center.  Well, why not?  There have always been immigrants in Ireland. 

Judith also sings sephardic music with the “Republic of Loose.”  And her  album, Classical Russian, with songs from stravinksy, Tchaikovsky. Rachmoninov and Shotakovitch, is on Itunes.  That makes her a pretty cultured Molly!

This show is part of Culture Ireland’s year-long program, Imagine Ireland (it’s  connected to the fabulous Ireland America:  Ties That Bind exhibit there, which I wrote about here.  Curator Marion Casey was on our very first podcast back in March!)

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.