Giacomo Puccini's 'Tosca' takes the stage at the foot of Masada. (Photographer credit: Yossi Zveker)
Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ takes the stage at the foot of Masada. (Photographer credit: Yossi Zveker)

The Fifth Masada Opera Festival – the largest international cultural event in Israel – gets underway this week with two masterpieces being staged at the foot of the majestic UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Israeli Opera, which is celebrating its 30th season this year, will present Tosca by Giacomo Puccini and Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, over the weekends of June 4-6 and June 11-13. There will be four performances of Tosca and two performances of Carmina Burana.

“Every year I remind myself that it all started with a fantastic dream that was hard to believe would come true… Now our festival takes shape for the fifth year, and this time we are privileged to stage not one, but two huge productions that are totally different from each other, on the same gigantic stage that is rebuilt every year especially for the Opera Festival at the foot of Masada,” says Hanna Munitz, Israeli Opera General Director.

The Masada Opera Festival launched in 2010. Since then it has become one of the leading international opera festivals in the world and has positioned the Israeli Opera as an important and significant international opera house, says Munitz.

An aerial view of the set for 'Tosca' at this year's Opera Festival at Masada. (Photographer credit: Set design)
An aerial view of the set for ‘Tosca’ at this year’s Opera Festival at Masada. (Photographer credit: Set design)

Some 2,500 people helped build the stage – measuring 35 meters deep and 64 meters wide — for the two operas.

“The Masada Opera Festival, in the Judean Desert, near the shores of the Dead Sea… is a source of great pride, considering the size and scope of such a cultural event, and in such a setting,” said outgoing Minister of Tourism Dr. Uzi Landau.  “Last year the Festival attracted thousands of tourists, opera lovers who came in order to enjoy the unique production at the foot of the ancient fortress of courage, and thus were exposed to the charms of the music, the history, and nature in Israel.”

“This is a tremendous and unique experience that captivates the audience when the orchestra begins playing thunderously, the rainbow of lighting colors blends in with Mount Masada, and the opera singers take flight,” says Dov Litvinoff, Head of the Tamar Regional Council. “I invite you, all the residents of Israel and citizens of the world, of all ages, to come this year and enjoy the exceptional combination in which the soprano’s voice shakes the desert silence, under the stars in Mother Nature’s cultural hall.”