Fisher, Dudu

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FISHER, DUDU (1951– ), Israeli singer and cantor. Fisher was born in Petaḥ Tikvah. He displayed his singing prowess at a very early age when he would entertain his fellow yeshivah high school students at parties with hits from abroad with the original English language lyrics replaced by a text of a far more religion-friendly nature. He spent his military tour of duty as a soloist in the choir of the idf Chief Rabbinate and, after his release, began to work as a cantor in the Great Synagogue in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv. He subsequently took his cantorial talents to South Africa and began to perform regularly for Jewish communities around the world. Alongside his cantorial duties, Fisher began to perform a wide range of material in Yiddish. The venture proved highly popular and he recorded his first album of Yiddish songs, Goldener Lieder – Die Beste Yiddische Lieder (Golden Songs – The Best Yiddish Songs) in 1986. The following year he competed unsuccessfully for the right to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. Fisher's contribution to Yiddish, ḥasidic, and canto-rial music – both his recordings, such as Mammamanyo, and his numerous concerts around the world – were recognized by his award of the Shalom Aleichem Prize.

In 1987 Fisher auditioned for the Cameri Theater's Hebrew version of the musical Les Miserables. Despite the fact that the theater managers preferred a big name for the lead part of Jean Valjean, both the director and the producer of the show opted for Fisher, who was yet to become a star. The gamble proved successful and the show was a hit. Meanwhile, Fisher's recording work continued unabated and, in September 1988, he released two albums of ḥasidic and Yiddish songs. Fisher's international career really took off in 1993 when he starred in the English-language version of the Broadway production of Les Miserables, later playing the lead role when the production went to London's West End, where he performed in the presence of the Queen of England.

In 1989 Fisher performed in a show called Over the Rainbow, which included favorites from well-known musicals such as Porgy and Bess, The Wizard of Oz, and Cats. He subsequently released an album with material taken from the show. Fisher followed this with a production called Steps to Heaven in which he sang original and Hebrew-language versions of romantic hits performed in the 1960s by the likes of Paul Anka and Elvis Presley. Around this time Fisher cemented his lofty international status when he recorded an album of hits from musicals with the London Symphony Orchestra.

As an observant Jew, Fisher managed to keep his lead role in Les Miserables despite not taking part in the Friday evening or Saturday performances. In 1999 Fisher solved that logistical problem his own way when he put on a successful one-man off-Broadway show, aptly entitled Never on Friday.

[Barry Davis (2nd ed.)]

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Fisher, Dudu

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