Israel opera
A musical presentation during a press conference by the Israeli Opera, Jan. 16, 2012. Photo by Alon Ron
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The Israeli Opera, under the baton of Daniel Oren, will perform "Carmen" at the foot of Masada in June, the opera house announced Monday.

The Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili will reprise the title role, which she has also sung at La Scala in Milan, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, and at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

The Masada production is set in the Wild West and features choirs, flamenco dancers from Spain and extras by the dozen - as well as donkeys, horses, sheep and a train. Giant screens on either side of the enormous stage will provide close-ups of the singers' faces.

There will be five performances of the production, which involves about 2,500 performers, stage technicians and other staff.

Hanna Munitz, the general director of the Israeli Opera, said the company's experience with mounting operas at the site - "Nabucco" in 2010 and "Aida" in 2011 - pointed to "success in leveraging the historical and archaeological asset and putting Israel on the global musical tourism map."

Those performances drew thousands of foreign visitors and were seen by more than 120,000 people, she said.

Arkia Israel Airlines, which is handling the marketing for the production, announced that package deals - flights, tickets and accommodation in the area - will cost less than last year. In response to a question about the promise, given a few months ago, of a plan to fly ticket-holders directly to the adjacent airfield, he said official approval was still pending.

The first performance will be on Thursday, June 7, followed by nightly performances June 9-12. On Friday, June 8, the venue will host the Israeli band Idan Raichel Project and international artists.

Also in June, the Israeli Opera will put on 14 performances of a partially staged production of "La Traviata" at Zedekiah's Cave in Jerusalem.