The Israeli Opera announces its new season rollout

The Israeli Opera's new opera season begins in November, and its dance season begins in September.

 DANISH STAGE DIRECTOR Kasper Holten’s award-winning production of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni.’  (photo credit: YOSSI TZVEKER)
DANISH STAGE DIRECTOR Kasper Holten’s award-winning production of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni.’
(photo credit: YOSSI TZVEKER)

The Israeli Opera has announced its plans for the coming season of opera and dance productions. The former starts in November, with the first dance slot of the highly varied 2022-23 program set for September.

The dance series features a stellar roster of global leaders in the field, including the likes of Chinese choreographer Yang Liping who rose to fame in 1986 with her production of, and onstage role in, The Spirit of Peacock and later became the first dancer from mainland China to perform in Taiwan. Other choreographers of note in the new Israeli Opera rollout include Marco Goecke from Germany, best known for his 2006 production of The Nutcracker, Canadian dancer, choreographer and dance company director Marie Chouinard, 38-year-old Swedish dancer-choreographer Alexander Ekman and London-based Israeli dancer, choreographer and composer Hofesh Shechter.

Chouinard, Goecke and Shechter will join forces with Barcelona-born and bred choreographer Cayetano Soto in Swan Lakes, in October. The intriguing four-parter comprises individual versions of the fairytale based on a widely-ranging score runs the gamut of Tchaikovsky’s popular composition through to sounds created by Icelandic pop singer and composer Björk.

That will be followed by Liping’s aesthetically compelling take on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, married with traditional Tibetan music. The powerful work, which is scheduled for December, addresses the beauty of the cycle of life, from birth through death to rebirth.

The March 2023 slot features Goecke in tandem with the Ballet of Hannover State Opera, with a production of The Lover. The storyline is taken from the eponymous novel by 20th-century French writer and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras, which tells the emotive tale of a 15-year-old girl who falls in love with a much older man. The soundtrack of the Goecke work includes music by Debussy, Ravel and Chopin.

 ALLA VASILEVITSKY (sitting) and Tal Bergman play Giulietta and Romeo, respectively, at the Israeli Opera production of Bellini’s ‘I Capuleti ed i Montecchi’. (credit: YOSSI ZWECKER) ALLA VASILEVITSKY (sitting) and Tal Bergman play Giulietta and Romeo, respectively, at the Israeli Opera production of Bellini’s ‘I Capuleti ed i Montecchi’. (credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)

The dance season concludes in July 2023 with a dynamic crescendo, when the Ballet Nacional de Espana presents a tour de force of Spanish dance and music. The musical backdrop follows a meandering trail from classical works through to bolero and flamenco, with the dancers performing moves created by choreographers Ruben Olmo, Antonio Najarro and Mario Mayo.

Onto the opera’s titular field of entertainment, and the season opens, in November, with a new production of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” conducted by house musical director Dan Ettinger, and directed and designed by Stefano Poda, who was also responsible for The Israeli Opera’s lauded 2017 rendition of Faust. Poda, a total artist who keeps his gifted hands firmly on the production tiller, across set, costume and lighting design, creates for Hoffmann a grandiose world in which he roams between the three ladies whose love he cannot conquer.

Ettinger will also be on the conductor’s podium for the December staging of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in Polish director Mariusz Trelinski’s stylized and critically acclaimed production. Trelinski’s creation has the protagonist at the center of a Japanese stylized set desperately trying to avert the predicted cruel destiny of her child, born from her liaison with an American naval officer.

THE JANUARY 2023 offering is a left-field double bill of two short operas – Cavalleria Rusticana by late nineteenth-early twentieth-century Italian composer Pietro Mascagni twinned with the Israeli Opera’s first presentation of Rachmaninoff’s Aleko. Both works feed off tales of betrayal, with the character of Lola cheating on husband Alfio in Mascagni’s action-packed single-act Sicilian drama, while free-living and free love go awry for a gypsy in the Russian composer’s operatic debut.

There is another first in store in February when the Israeli Opera puts on a production of Rinaldo, Handel’s operatic first fruit in his new domicile in England. Is considered one of the gems of his hefty operatic oeuvre, and features one his most enduring arias “Lascia ch’io pianga.”

The storyline is based in this region of the world, as the 11th-century Crusaders set siege to the Muslim army. In the midst of the military maneuvers love shines and flickers, as a formidable sorceress from Damascus threatens to scupper the romantic intent. The instrumental support for the soloists’ portrayal will be provided by the Barrocade Orchestra under the direction of French leading baroque conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi.

Local interest will undoubtedly be piqued in May 2023, with the world premiere of an Israeli opera called Theodor. Unsurprisingly, the new work, with Ido Ricklin’s libretto scored by Yonatan Cnaan, centers on the visionary of the Promised Land. The tale is set in 1881 Vienna, where the young Herzl was an enthused student, after which the plot moves on to Paris in 1895, with a now less than youthful and starry-eyed journalist covering the Dreyfuss trial.

Theodor mines the emotional and ideological counterpoint between the founder of the Jewish state’s younger and more weather-beaten self, as he strives to free himself of his inner ghetto and forge a new reality for himself. The world premiere will be conducted by Nimrod David Pfeffer, who recently took his conducting bow at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Danish stage director Kasper Holten brings his award-winning production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni to the Opera House in March-April next year, conducted by renowned German conductor Karl-Heinz Steffans in his Israeli Opera debut. Holten and his design team created a larger-than-life video design that serves as a mirror reflecting the inner world of the characters. Copenhagen costume designer Anja Vang Kragh will also put in her aesthetic shekel’s worth.

Italian director Daniele Abbado also comes to the Israeli Opera for the first time, with his lauded production of “Verdi’s Il trovatore,” from the Vienna Staatsoper, conducted by Giuliano Carella.

The curtain comes down on the 2022-23 opera season with a bang, with Mozart’s ever-popular Requiem, in July. Lighting designer Nadav Barnea and director Shirit Lee Weiss join forces to create a special audio-visual experience, which takes Mozart’s stirring score into new sensorial realms.

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