Israeli Opera Stages Carmen in Desert

The Israeli Opera is about to see through its most ambitious project to date when it stages five open-air performances of Carmen at the ancient fortress of Masada. The production of Bizet’s celebrated opera – which opens June 7 - will be seen by 50,000 people during its run.

A workforce of approximately 2500 people has spent around three months building the 4000 square metre stage, orchestral pit, seats, reception area and car parks. They will then dismantle the entire site the day after the final performance.

The production - the largest of its kind – has a cast of 450 performers including 32 Spanish flamenco dancers. Also making an appearance be will horses, donkeys and, rather incredibly, a moving train.

Masada is located on the eastern edge of the Judean desert and overlooks the Dead Sea. Built by Herod the Great, the site is located 400 metres above the desert floor and was excavated in the 1960s.

Speaking of the logistics and the production's desert settings, chief producer Uri Hartman commented on the need for the cast to keep hydrated.

He said: "They need to drink more and rest more because of the heat and the dry desert winds."

The Israeli Opera and Masada national park officials spent two years negotiating the terms and conditions over the use of the site. The time has obviously been well spent – work on next year’s production of Turandot is already underway.