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Moscow Nights presents songs of WWII

Director, actress, singer Natasha Ramer founded Moscow Nights to celebrate Russian cultural arts.

Director, actress, singer Natasha Ramer founded Moscow Nights to celebrate Russian cultural arts.

Natasha Ramer immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1982, moving to New Orleans two years later with her husband Samuel, a professor of Russian history at Tulane. In the mid-1970s, many Russians, mostly Jewish, emigrated, eventually finding their way to the port city of New Orleans; another wave of immigrants followed in 1991 after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Today, there are more than 9,000 people of Russian heritage in Louisiana.

In 1998, after seeing an Irish play at Southern Repertory Theater, Natasha Ramer decided to create her own performance company to celebrate her beloved Russian drama, music, dance and literature. A graduate of the Russian Academy for the Performing Arts, she had been a theater director and actress back in her home country. After producing New Orleans’ First Russian Winter Festival in 1999, she has produced a major show every year since.

On Thursday, Oct. 27 through Saturday, Oct. 29, Moscow Nights will present “Longing for Peace and Home in the Songs of the Second World War,” including hauntingly beautiful Russian songs, well known in the former Soviet Union, as well as Jewish songs composed in wartime ghettos and sung in resistance camps.

Theresa Tova, a Canadian actor and cabaret singer who tours Europe, and Aelita, Latvian-born “chanteuse extraordinaire,” who sings in 16 languages, will travel to New Orleans to perform alongside Ramer. They will be accompanied by Boris Fogel who performs with the Bolshoi Theatre and Vadim Kolpakov, Russian Roma (gypsy), 7-string master guitarist and New Orleanian John Joyce on percussion.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at Gates of Prayer Synagogue, 4000 West Esplanade Avenue, Metairie; and Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Marigny Opera House, 725 St. Ferdinand Street, New Orleans.

Mary Rickard has been a regular contributor to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Orleans Advocate and Gambit, as well as newspapers and wire services in other locales. Feel free to send her comments or critiques at mary.rickard@sbcglobal.net.