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Works of Passion Sung at Masada

For the past six years, the Israeli Opera has hosted a signature event each June at Masada. This ancient desert fortress is a natural place to host a massive outdoor operatic production, and this year, the opera is doing a double production, with four productions of "La Tosca" and two of “Carmina Burana:”

One of the major benefits of outdoor opera festivals is that it makes opera more accessible to the general public. The opera comes out of the theater, where it can feel forbidding and stuffy, and into nature, where people who may not know about opera feel less intimidated. Open-air opera festivals around the world, including Masada, attract people who are not opera buffs. ...

“Most moments, the way ["La Tosca"] is written, you have two people on the stage, or when you’re really lucky you have three,” said [Michael Ajzenstadt, the Israel Opera’s artistic administrator]. “It’s about a personal, powerful confrontation between this trio of characters, two men who are fighting each other, in a way, for the love of this woman.” ...

For those who wanted the lights and the color and the big chorus scenes, Israel Opera had a simple solution: it would host two different operas.

For the opera buffs, there’s ["La Tosca,"] a true-to-the-book version of a Puccini classic. For those looking for a spectacular explosion of color, there’s “Carmina Burana,” a scandalous, riotous production featuring many pyrotechnics and real flames, an enormous, kinetic set that is colorfully lit, and a stage often filled to the brim with dancers in outlandish costumes.

“Those who will see ‘Carmina Burana’ will see a totally different approach,” said Ajzenstadt. “There is a balance between the two. One will be really gigantic fabulous lighting good for the outdoors and Masada in particular. One will really concentrate on the story, on the music, on the period.”

The two separate productions allow the Israel Opera to bill the Masada events as a true festival and provide an extra incentive for international tourists to come. There are about 3,000 international tourists coming specifically for the Masada Opera, according to the Tourism Ministry, which is also one of the major sponsors of the event.

Tags: Life in Israel

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