Ani maamin – cantata

One of the final works by Darius Milhaud (1892–1974) was the Ani maamin (“I Believe”) cantata, written in 1972, the title of which refers to the writings of Maimonides that summarise the 13 principles of Jewish faith. The 12th point of this creed, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, was especially emphasised by the writer of the cantata’s text Elie Wiesel. In the piece, the short chorus and vocal solo lines alternate with texts narrated in prose which depict Abraham, Isaac and Jacob travelling around the world and bringing the immense suffering of the Holocaust before God.  The lines by the solo soprano appear near the middle of the piece, and alternate with the words of Abraham. To the questions of the patriarchs (How can God allow such atrocities?), the answers again and again convey unconditional faith: “The thoughts of God are inscrutable. God knows what He does.” The patriarchs finally run out of arguments and leave the heavens, but do not notice the tears in the eyes of God. And they receive a new confirmation, hope in the lives of their children. We first hear the complete text of the creed in the final movement in Hebrew: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he may tarry, I will wait daily for his coming. Ani maamin.”