Zakai was known for her wide and varied repertoire, including Handel Cantatas, Prince Orlovsky, Ulrica, and Erda. This was reflected by her many recordings, including her famous 1980 recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with Georg Solti, for which she was awarded a Grammy for Best Overall Classical Recording at the 1982 Grammy awards. She also performed at a special concert for Pope John Paul II, for whom she sang Bach's heart-rending "Erbame dich, mein Gott." She was the only soloist chosen for the concert, hand-picked by Yehudi Menuhin, who himself play the violin obligato part. A selection of her performances and recordings can be heard below.
Erbame dich, mein Gott
O Röschen rot!
Mi palpita il cor
Sea Slumber Song
"I had to reach the very edge of my vocal limits, and the limits of my interpretive ability as well. His vocal and emotional register was like an invitation to tour new and exciting realms"
“A lot of things I sang at the time were the sort that deterred other singers, because they didn’t want to scream or ‘stand on their heads.’ This piece is powerfully written for the voice. I guess that’s why he came to me. I had previously sung ‘Yod-Aleph Matzevot’ (‘Eleven Tombstones’) by Leon Schidlowsky, who composed it in response to the murder of the Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympics. I gave the debut performance of that, too. Schidlowsky asked me to scream and cry: ‘Go mad and be on the verge of a breakdown.’ I had sung pieces like that written by young students at the academy ... about rituals of tearing out hearts in South America and ceremonies from India, alongside Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot lunaire’ and Pablo Neruda poems and tricky Inuit pieces. So when Kopytman came, I was already ‘shout-proof.’ I’d already screamed it all.”