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Dubai Opera: Inside Opening Weekend with Nez Gebreel

Courtesy of Dubai Opera.

Courtesy of Dubai Opera.

Three years ago, construction of a world-class opera house began in Dubai. Now, Dubai Opera— located in the emirate’s cultural Opera District—has opened its doors. caught up with Dubai Design and Fashion Council’s (DDFC) CEO and Fashion Prize jury member, Nez Gebreel, to get her impressions on Dubai’s newest cultural landmark.

“I love how it appears like a mirage as you are driving towards it,” mused Nez Gebreel reflecting on the Dhow ship-inspired building located across the fountains from the Burj Khalifa. “Opera and performing arts have been part of my cultural DNA growing up. Seeing something like the Dubai Opera come to life brings such joy,” she disclosed.

For the occasion of the opening weekend, Gebreel—a guest of Dubai Opera’s chief executive, Jasper Hope—donned a hand-woven, striped abaya by Palestinian designer Faissal El-Malak, a Roland Mouret evening bag, and Bil Arabi fine jewelry. Upon arrival, Gebreel took in the sprawling marble interior that featured dark wood accents before taking her seat in the theater hall. “I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the hall; and with its rich textures and color palette, it still managed to convey an intimate atmosphere.” The performing arts venue boasts a 1901-seat capacity and can transform from a theater concert hall to a flat floor space.

Omar Qirem and Nez Gebreel wearing a Faissal El-Malak abaya and Bil Arabi jewelry. nezarella / Instagram

Omar Qirem and Nez Gebreel wearing a Faissal El-Malak abaya and Bil Arabi jewelry. nezarella / Instagram

Following Thursday’s grand opening featuring Placido Domingo, on Friday night, the curtain rose to reveal an operatic performance of The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet. Gebreel, who worked in the music and entertainment industry (alongside renowned television producer Simon Fuller) for over ten years, was impressed with the acoustics.

Gebreel stressed that there’s more to the new opera venue than its impressive design. “While people will want to view the building, it will actually be all about the content and programming. Having someone like Jasper Hope—who used to run London’s Albert Hall [for seven years]—you know that it [the Dubai Opera] is in safe hands, and will compete with the best,” Gebreel remarked. The Dubai Opera schedule is loaded with a lineup of shows for fall, including José Carreras’ final world tour, Broadway’s Les Misérables, West Side Story, and a concert by Hussein Al Jasmi—scheduled to be the first Arab singer to perform at the Dubai Opera.

“It was the best—and long overdue—date night with my husband,” admitted Gebreel following The Pearl Fishers opera. Recalling the ensembles of the evening, she remarked, “I think people were unsure how to dress—we saw everything from black tie to jeans. But people were mostly dressed up, which was lovely to see,” she added.

“From a professional and cultural creative community level, it [the Dubai Opera] adds so much value and will contribute heavily to a to sustainable cultural vision that we are all working towards,” she concluded.

Dubai Opera is located in The Opera District, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai.

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