Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Masada opera etc.

FIFTH ANNUAL ISRAELI OPERA FESTIVAL AT MASASA: Fighting wind with grit, opera group makes Masada into backdrop. Bringing a production of La Traviata to the desert fortress is a massive undertaking, but well worth it, organizers say (Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel). Excerpt:
The production team began working in early spring, taking two full months to clear a 50,000-square-meter (538,195 square feet) stretch of desert, then building stairs, hauling machinery, creating safety supports, and setting up tents, lighting and toilets.

Once the stage was ready, they trucked in the set designed in Tel Aviv, which this year includes a massive video-screen backdrop and partial reproductions of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, as well as LED-lit chandelier skirts and 12 red couches that flip over and double as planters. After all, this is La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi’s hugely popular opera about a French courtesan and her lover, and the complications and misunderstandings in their relationship.

“We don’t have animals this year, but we have acrobats,” said Uri Hartman, the opera’s production manager, referring to the horses and camels in 2010′s production of Nabucco. “There’s 700 people on stage when you add up the chorus, the dancers and the orchestra.”

There’s also the entrance to the opera, which mimics a wide, grand Parisian boulevard, complete with stands selling French snacks, leading up to the 7,852 seats set in front of the stage, the backdrop of Masada in the near distance. Beyond the entrance, attendees arrive in shuttles from the nearby parking lot at the local airstrip, as private cars are not allowed at the site.
Past posts on the Masada Opera Festival are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I seemed to have missed 2013. I was pretty busy last June.

Also related, Bible History Daily: The Masada Siege. The Roman assault on Herod’s desert fortress (Robin Ngo). This summarizes an article in the current issue of BAR by Gwyn Davies, which article is unfortunately behind the paywall. The full contents of the current issue is summarized in this press release.