The 2014 Israel Opera Festival at Masada in June presents Verdi’s beloved La Traviata (June 12,14,16,17) conducted as ever by Daniel Oren ,with Elena Mosuc alternating with Aurelia Florian in the title role, tenors Celso Albelo and Jean Francois Borras singing Alfredo, and Oren discovery Ionut Pascu as Germont.

The director is Michal Znaniecki, who specializes in directing open-air productions.

He has set Traviata within its period, but in a sort of post-apocalyptic Paris, his concept fueled by a line Violetta says in Act I, that her life is like a desert.

“So we see Paris as desert, as a desolation, metaphorically of course,” says the director in a press conference video.

This production at Masada is as much about marketing as it is about music, and has resulted in Israel becoming another stop for cultural tourists. Some 10,000 or so foreign tourists book seats for the opera, spending around 400,000 euros. Altogether the festival draws some 60,000 people annually.

This year, for the first time, the Israel Philharmonic has gotten into the act and will perform Beethoven’s 1st and 9th symphonies (June 15) under the baton of Kent Nagano.

Also for the first time the festival will travel north to the crusader fortress at Acre, showcasing Mozart.

There’ll be two performances of Don Giovanni (June 19, 21), one for the Requiem (June 20) and one for children of The Magic Flute (June 21).

There will also be a Crusader banquet on each of these days.

The Idan Reichel Project also comes to Masada, on June 13.

Tickets, with special packages from Arkia comprising show, hotels and flights, are already on sale.

And the last word goes to logistics. It takes four months to set up the special site at the foot of Masada, and a month to strike it. Small wonder that the Opera and the Tamar regional council are casting about for a permanent venue.

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