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Mamzer Bastard

The Royal Opera presents the world premiere of a new work by exciting young composer Na’ama Zisser, in a soundworld that thrillingly unites contemporary idioms with the music of Orthodox Hasidic Judaism.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Mamzer Bastard. It was last on stage 14–17 June 2018 as part of the Summer 2017/18 season.


It is the night before Yoel’s wedding, an arranged marriage within his Orthodox Hasidic community. He is wracked with doubt. A chance encounter with a stranger reveals truths about Yoel that change everything.


Mamzer Bastard is the latest opera by Israeli-born composer Na’ama Zisser. Her numerous stage works include the horror opera Black Sand (Tête à Tête and Grimeborn) and the dance works Ghosts! (Sadler’s Wells), Fill in the Blanks (The Place) and Street Stories (East London Dance and Linbury Studio Theatre). Mamzer Bastard is the culmination of Zisser’s doctoral residency with The Royal Opera and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; her predecessor in the role was Philip Venables, who wrote the award-winning 4.48 Psychosis for his doctorate.

In Mamzer Bastard Zisser tells a story set within the Orthodox Jewish community, merging her own musical idiom with the Jewish cantorial style of the 20th century. ‘Mamzer’ is a Hebraic word that roughly translates as ‘bastard’ – it denotes a person born from a relationship that is forbidden according to Jewish religious law. Through her setting within the New York Hasidic community in the 1970s, Zisser explores how much a person will sacrifice for their religion, their community and other people’s happiness.