Sometimes a cultural experience here in Israel is so well-done and world class that it makes me happy that I live here. Last night's performance of Verdi's opera, Nabucco, conducted by Daniel Oren at Masada certainly did the trick. The experience is not for the faint of heart. The opera began at 10 PM and ended at approximately 1 AM. There were three ways of getting there and back: By bus, by buying a hotel package at one of the Dead Sea hotels or by driving. We opted for the bus option which meant that we left Tel Aviv at around 5 PM and did not return until 4 AM. And, being that Masada is located in the desert, it was quite a warm evening. Finally, the seating in a temporary open-air theater was not the most comfortable.
Notwithstanding all the inconveniences, the event was extremely well-organized from start to finish with some very nice touches such as the distribution of fans, seat cushions and ices. The space outside the theater was set up with couches, tables and chairs, and replicas of ancient pillars. The sets, costumes, special effects and performances were all breathtaking. I have seen Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Globes Theater, Don Giovanni at the Prague National Theater (the city where that opera was first performed) and Kabuki (Japanese drama) in the Kabuki-za theater (the theater in Tokyo famous for Kabuki); I can honestly say that last night's performance of Nabucco, known as Verdi's "Jewish Opera", at the foot of Masada was as meaningful and touching as those other performances. In the words of President Shimon Peres who attended last night's performance, "a small country that has big opera is not a small country at all."
To learn about opera performances in general, go to www.israel-opera.co.il
The Israeli opera will perform Aida at Masada the weekend of June 2nd through June 5th, 2011