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An opera in the desert

Oded Balilty / AP

Opera singers walk to the stage for a rehearsal of Verdi's opera, Aida, which is being performed at the foot of the historic mountain of Masada, Israel, on May 31.

Oded Balilty / AP

Performers prepare for a rehearsal of Verdi's opera, Aida, near Masada on May 31.

Darren Whiteside / Reuters

A member of Israel's opera performs during a dress rehearsal of Verdi's Aida near Masada on May 31.

Verdi's Aida will be performed at the foot of the ancient mountain fortress of Masada, in the Judean desert close to the Dead Sea.

UNESCO inscribed Masada as a World Heritage Site in 2001, describing it thus:

Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.