The New Israel Opera is performing Verdi’s masterpiece on a desert hilltop where a fugitive community committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the occupying power (these were Jews and Romans in 73 AD).
The fashion for staging musical spectacles on the site began with case-appropriate concerts – Beethoven’s 9th, Mahler’s 2nd. But opera, that exotic and irrational entertainment, seems out of place on a place of pilgrimage and contemplation.
The conductor’s comments don’t help. ‘Through the music you can go really very high and in this place in the desert you can achieve magical things. My dream is that this really becomes one of the most important festivals in the world because the place is unique.’ (Daniel Oren, music director, New Israel Opera.)
It just feels wrong.