It's bound to be the greatest opera event of the summer: For the first time, the Israeli Opera is hosting the Bolshoi Opera House from Moscow, one of the world's leading opera houses and the biggest in Russia.
The guests from Moscow have brought Tchaikovsky's ultimate masterpiece, "Yevgeny Onegin," perhaps the most "Russian" opera of all times.
"Yevgeny Onegin" includes soulful romantic music, telling the story of one of the greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, about perfect love which was missed as there is no happiness in life. In other words, the essence of the Russian soul.
The production will be presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center till July 7.
"We performed 'Yevgeny Onegin' on important European stages with great success," says Anatoly Iksanov, the director-general of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia. "We are proud to be bringing this production to the Tel Aviv Opera House, which has a good international reputation.
"I visited Israel before as the director-general of a St. Petersburg theater and I was very impressed by the wonderful, sensitive and loyal Israeli audience," he adds.
'Russians crave culture'The Bolshoi (the Russian word for "grand") landed in Tel Aviv in full musical force. It was founded more than 230 years ago, included an opera group and ballet group, and was considered one of Russia's oldest theaters.
In the past year, the distinguished institution was involved in some undistinguished scandals. In January, the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director was attacked with acid. There have also been reports of violent rivalries between the dancers. But Iksanov appears unmoved.
"The Russians crave culture," he says. "Tickets to our productions go on sale three months in advance and are snatched on the spot."
But who can afford to buy the tickets? Is it only the "new Russians?"
"Absolutely not. About one-third of the tickets are sold for a symbolic price of €2 (about $2.6) to students and pensioners, and the prices of regular tickets are not too high either."
Today, the Bolshoi is an inseparable part of the international world of opera: Its singers perform in opera houses around the globe, and the theater recently launched a project in search of future stars.
"We looked for graduates of music academies, and we give them a two-year course with the best teachers from Italy, Germany and France. Only one of 250 candidates is admitted," Iksanov says.