Mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti has played operatic roles from Lady Macbeth to Azucena, and venues from the Met to La Scala.
But this summer, the Pittsburgh-based singer will embark on a new challenge: singing the role of Amneris in Verdi’s “Aida” at the foot of Mt. Masada. And Pittsburgh opera fans can come along for the ride.
Soon after being cast in the opera, which will run the first week of June, Cornetti got in touch with local travel agent Janice Rosenberg, and suggested she bring a group to Masada.
Rosenberg, who has been leading groups to uncommon destinations for the last 40 years, is now in the process of forming a group to visit the Jewish state this summer, and preparing an itinerary highlighted by “Aida.”
“Aida,” the love story of an enslaved Ethiopian prin-cess and an Egyptian army officer, will be performed in a giant amphitheater specially erected on the desert floor, with Masada as the backdrop. The production, conducted by Israeli maestro Daniel Oren, will feature 120 choristers, 40 dancers and 70 extras of the Israeli Opera, in addition to live camels and elephants.
“The opera ‘Aida’ is normally a spectacle,” Rosenberg said, “but to have that opera in such a historic place, using live animals, and Marianne Cornetti, is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The production of the Verdi opera follows the success of the production of the opera Nabucco, performed at Masada last summer to audiences totaling 30,000.
“Aida” will be presented as part of the Masada, Dead Sea and Jerusalem Opera Festival, which will also feature soprano Angela Gheorghiu with tenor Massimo Giordano in a separate concert under the stars at Masada.
Cornetti studied music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. After graduating from Duquesne, she spent three years at the Pittsburgh Opera’s Young Artist program. She is now recognized as one of the leading Verdi mezzo-sopranos in the world.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.)