Opera lovers now have a good reason to visit Jerusalem. Of all the historical sites where opera festivals take place in summer, Jerusalem may be the best, with its backdrop of the Old City walls and its many dramatic venues. This summer opera is coming to Jerusalem for a five-day festival, June 2 to 6, that will include the Israeli premiere of Verdi’s Jerusalem.
The orchestra of the Arena di Verona, Italy’s leading summer opera festival, will open the festival under the baton of Italian conductor Giuliano Carella with a gala opera concert—Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini arias and duets—in the open-air Sultan’s Pool.
A semi-staged production of Verdi’s Jerusalem with special lighting effects will be performed at the same site on the last night of the festival. David Stern, music director of the Tel Aviv-based New Israel Opera, is to lead the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the New Israel Opera chorus, and international and Israeli soloists.
The opera, in four acts, is set during the crusades to the Holy Land. It opens in France, moves to the city of Ramle, and finally reaches Jerusalem where the Crusaders are about to capture the city. Of course, there is a ridiculously complicated love story, with suspenseful twists, mistaken identities, and murder plots, as in other Verdi operas.
Between these two major musical events, 30 chamber and vocal concerts will take place in dramatic historic settings, including the Tower of David Museum, the Dormition Abbey, and the Sisters of Zion Church in Ein Kerem.
And while the opera festival takes place in Jerusalem, Verdi’s Aïda and his Requiem will be performed at the foot of Masada, near the Dead Sea.
It will be a summer to remember.
Text and photo copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photos may be used without written permission of the author.