It isn’t often that Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” set in a Turkish harem, can be staged in Crusader-era halls renovated by the 19th century Ottoman empire.
But that’s a typical sight in Acre, Israel’s northern Jewish-Arab city and one of the oldest urban communities in the world, designated as a UNESCO world site.
This is the third year of the Acre Opera, produced by the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv and co-sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, the Acre municipality and the Galilean Treasures program created by philanthropist Raya Strauss.
The Acre opera festival, July 28-30, has become a regular part of the opera company’s summer roster, which this year includes performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigolleto” in Jerusalem on June 22 and 23. In past years, the Israeli Opera has also hosted full-stage performances at the foot of Masada.
The Acre Opera Festival is one of the city’s six annual festivals, said Mayor Shimon Lankri, adding that it attests to Acre’s success as a mixed city. Lankri spoke at a press conference held Wednesday at the Israeli Opera house in Tel Aviv.
The opera festival, he said, brings culture to the periphery, instead of only leaving it in the country’s center, to be accessed by those who live there.
Strauss, a scion of her family’s dairy company that was begun in Nahariya, called opera another tool in Western Galilean tourism.
“I was brought up by ‘yekke’ parents and with opera records playing in our home,” she said. “You have to listen and hear opera. I think everyone should hear it.”
The festival also includes “Latino Ladino,” music of the east and west, sung by Israeli Opera company singers and performed on July 29, the second night of the event. There will be several performances of “The Magic Flute” on Saturday, July 30, a short, family-friendly opera.
Prices vary for the different operas, and tickets are available through the Bimot ticket agency.