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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Four Israeli divas serenade traffic from atop Jerusalem bridge

Opera singers perform on the Bridge of Chords at the entrance to Jerusalem, April 13, 2011

Mozart, Verdi and Gershwin graced passersby at the Jerusalem Chords Bridge in public promotion for upcoming Dead Sea concert.

Four Israeli female opera singers on Wednesday performed at a prominent outdoor Jerusalem area landmark, singing classical arias in the midday traffic to promote an upcoming opera festival at Masada.

The singers from the Tel Aviv-based Israeli Opera were promoting an opera festival that will center around an outdoor venue at the shore of the Dead Sea mountain of Masada.

"We are promoting the opera festival ... it is a bit weird to sing here, but it is special," mezzo-soprano Yifat Weisskopf said of the festival, inaugurated in 2010.

Cars, service taxis and garbage trucks rumbled along unfazed and traffic lights shifted, oblivious to the cadence of the caressing sounds as the singers each took their turn to bellow out music probably never before heard at the scene.

The main opera work being performed at the festival in June is Aida by Verdi, with his lesser-known opera named Jerusalem to be performed next to Jerusalem's old city walls.

After singing arias by Mozart, Verdi and Gershwin the performers quietly made their way down from the imposing suspension bridge built for a new light-railway that was undergoing final tests even as the singers performed.

Fears that ultra-Orthodox Jews, who believe the sound of a woman's voice in song is blasphemous, would take offence and protest, came to nothing as few of them seemed to even notice the event.

It was a marked contrast to the public outcry before the bridge's opening ceremony when ultra-Orthodox city officials forced female dancers to cover their hair and don sack-like dresses to avoid offending rabbis. The dance troupe moved its headquarters to more liberal Tel Aviv soon afterwards.