Mount Masada to Host “Carmen” Opera for Extraordinary Performances

June 7, 2012 2:46 pm 0 comments

Mount Masada. Photo: wiki commons.

What do French opera composer Georges Bizet, Masada and a Spanish village have in common? They’re all part of the most ambitious cultural event ever staged in Israel—five performances of Bizet’s popular opera Carmen performed in a specially designed arena at the foot of Masada.

The spectacular setting in the Judean Desert has attracted wide attention amongst international opera-lovers. The performances, billed as the “Third Opera Festival at Masada” are scheduled for June 7- 11 and are almost all sold out—7,500 seats per night with ticket prices between $120-$400.

Logistics of the event are staggering. Some 2,500 workers are involved in building the enormous opera village that lies a few hundred yards from the entrance to Masada National Park.  Apart from the massive 4,000 square-meter stage, a huge backstage area containing the 30 tons of equipment needed to mount the production, the 7,500 seats and orchestra pit, and 161 top-of-the line restrooms, the area also includes a Spanish Village that will serve as a foyer and reception area. The marquee village, complete with tapas and wine bar, rises out of the sand to accommodate the 400 performers and stagehands who will bring Carmen to life in front of the extraordinary backdrop of Masada.

The festival required the cooperation of three bodies in Israel, all of which have a vested interest in the success of the venture: the Tamar Regional Council, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Opera. According to Eitan Campbell, long-time director of Masada National Park, the agreement to put on the event at Masada required a good deal of compromise. Opera producers wanted the Opera Village to be closer to the national landmark, but he and the Parks Authority insisted that within a month after the event, the site should be restored to its original natural state. “We want there to be a buzz throughout the year when Masada visitors say ‘where was the Opera Village?’ If that happens, we’ve been successful,” Campbell explains.

For Ofra Gazit, marketing director of the local Tamar Regional Council and a resident of nearby Kibbutz Ein Gedi, the opera festival means an increased focus on this unique and ecologically fragile area of the country. “The festival helps position the Dead Sea area as a natural theater,” Gazit enthuses.  “There’s a fabulous natural echo here, and the moon over Masada is dramatic—this year the waning moon will be part of the set,” she adds. Gazit was instrumental in distributing tickets for the dress rehearsal to thousands of Israelis from communities in the area. “People are very enthusiastic to be part of the experience; we get many people who have never been to an opera, so it’s a way to bring a top-notch cultural event to local residents,” she says.

Uri Hartman, Production Director of the Opera Festival, explains to visitors ahead of opening night that conditions for the performers are “highly unusual.”  The four-act opera is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m but temperatures can still be in the upper 70s and the arid desert air is harmful to the vocal chords of professional opera stars. The heavy layered costumes will also be a challenge, notes Hartman. Unlike at major European opera houses, the principal singers at Masada will be wearing microphones concealed on their foreheads under their wigs to compensate for the potential wind that can interfere with the acoustics. Because of the heat, rehearsals start at around 7 p.m and continue until 1 a.m, but the workers building the sets and the village have been working around the clock for several months. “Altogether, everything is more complicated with this kind of unique production,” Hartman says.

Tenowned Israeli opera conductor Daniel Oren will lead internationally-acclaimed performers, including mezzo soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera playing Carmen, tenor Marco Berti playing Don Jose, soprano Maria Agresta playing Micaela and baritone Marcin Bronikowski playing Escamillo. Carmen is directed by Giancarlo del Monaco- Zukerman with set design by William Orlandi.

The Ankor Children’s Choir, flamenco dancers from Spain and the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion will also take part in the performance.

What role will the great fortress cliff of Masada play? The number one most visited site in Israel, which has become a symbol of Jewish resistance due to the terrible events that occurred there as Jews died rather than submit to Roman slavery, is kept alive and dynamic by all the events that happen in and around it, explains director Campbell.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.