Friday, February 7, 2014

" 'La Traviata' at the foot of Masada" -- say what?

"La Traviata at the foot of Masada"

VERDI: La Traviata: Prelude and Opening Scene
(through Alfredo and Violetta's Brindisi)

[You can find an Italian-English libretto for La Traviata
at "DM's opera site."]

[in English] Valerie Masterson (s), Violetta Valéry; Della Jones (ms), Flora Bervoix; Denis Dowling (b), Marquis d'Obigny; Geoffrey Pogson (t), Gastone, Viscount of Létorières; John Brecknock (t), Alfredo Germont; John Gibbs (b), Baron Douphol; English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras, cond. EMI, recorded Aug.-Oct. 1980

[clip 1: Prelude; clip 2: Opening Scene] Rosanna Carteri (s), Violetta Valéry; Lydia Marimpietri (s), Flora Bervoix; Leonardo Monreale (bs), Marquis d'Obigny; Glauco Scarlini (t), Gastone, Viscount of Létorières; Cesare Valletti (t), Alfredo Germont; Arturo La Porta (b), Baron Douphol; Rome Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Pierre Monteux, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded 1956 (mono)

by Ken

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't go just because the idea strikes me as a tiny bit, er, peculiar. It's certainly an amazingly dramatic as well as historic site -- there in the Judean desert, at the foot of the towering plateau of Masada, in range of the Dead Sea.

But "dramatic" in rather particular ways, I would think. I imagine that when the Israeli Opera Festival did Verdi's crypto-Old Testament epic Nabucco, much of which takes place outdoors in the ancient Near East, with scenes of definite blockbuster character, the site may have enhanced the experience. Ditto with Verdi's Egyptian epic, Aida.
The Opera Festival

We witness here the realization of the vision of an international opera festival in one of the most meaningful sites in our history, proving that the State of Israel can become a centre for culture tourism from all over the world. And indeed more than 4,000 tourists will attend these performance of Nabucco in tandem with thousands of Israelis coming to Masada from all corners of the land.

Many partners have joined us in this cultural, historic grandiose cultural celebration including the Tamar Regional Council, The National Parks Authority, The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Culture, The Dead Sea Hotel Association, Discount Bank, IDB who enable thousands of spectators from the periphery attend the performances, The Meitar Family Fund and others. We thank all of them and many others without whom we would not have been able to be here today and enjoy a production that will not be easily forgotten.

I thank you dear guests that you have chosen to enjoy with us Nabucco at the footsteps of Masada. I wish you a unique operatic experience and already am looking forward to seeing you here next year for Aida.

Hanna Munitz
Israeli Opera General Director

But La Traviata?

"La traviata at the foot of Masaada" was the actual legend on the online promotional something-or-other that caught my eye. And what could say "19th-century Parisian demimonde" more surely than the Judean desert, Masada, and the Dead Sea? Not to mention that, while Traviata has party scenes that are crucial to the drama, the heart of the thing is the scenes among the three principals -- Violetta and Alfredo and, later, papa Giorgio Germont.

There are four performances scheduled between June 12 and 17. If you go, let us know how it turned out!

Aida at Masada 2011

YouTube caption: For the second year running Eyal Lavee and his production team at The Design Group in Israel returned to the purpose built site they carved out of the desert last year for the Israeli Opera at the foot of Masada Mountain at the Dead Sea.

This historically significant and exquisitely raw setting saw the staging of Verdi's Aida, conducted by Daniel Oren, a co-production with Les Choragies d'Orange in France for the 2011 Dead Sea & Jerusalem Opera Festival 2011.

The Design Group - encompassing 3 different companies - Stage Design, Irgunit and LEDIM - and embracing multiple technical disciplines, handled all aspects of the technical production and site management. Lavee worked with his core production management team of Elad Mainz and Eviatar Banayan, and up to 150 other crew and technicians at peak times on site.

Once again, The Group's international connections were energised to bring onboard HSL and Britannia Row from the UK to provide lighting and audio equipment respectively. "Last year was a huge success, so it made sense to keep the same teams and collaborate with the best companies in the industry to supply the large quantities of premium kit required. Both HSL and Britannia Row did another fantastic job," says Lavee.

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