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Everything to Know About the World’s Largest Arabic Grand Opera Coming to Saudi Arabia

The world’s largest Arabic grand opera is officially making its way to Saudi Arabia.

saudi arabic grand opera

Royal Opera House, London.

Titled Zarqa Al Yamama, the production is organized by the Theatre and Performing Arts Commission of Saudi Arabia and under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, who is also the chairman of the commission’s board of directors. It marks the first time a grand opera has been produced in the Kingdom and is the largest Arabic grand opera to ever be staged. The opera will take place in Riyadh, and kick off after Eid al-Fitr, running from April 25  to May 4. The venue of the grand opera is yet to be announced.

The Arabic grand opera features artists talents from Saudi and beyond

Sawsan Albahiti. Photo: Mokhtar Chahine

Set in pre-Islamic Arabia, the opera tells the ancient tale of a woman from the Geddes tribe, who is blessed with the power of foresight, and attempts to warn their leader about an impending enemy attack but is faced with skepticism. The opera features an original score by Lee Bradshaw and a libretto by Saudi writer and poet Saleh Zamanan. The lead role will be played by English opera veteran Dame Sarah Connolly, while other key roles in the production are performed by Saudi talents Sawsan Albahiti, Khayran Al Zahrani, and Reemaz Oqbi. Other international artists featured in the opera include Clive Bayley, Amelia Wawrzon, Serena Farnocchia, Paride Cataldo, and George von Bergen.

In a statement, Sultan Al-Bazie, CEO of Saudi’s Theatre and Performing Arts Commission, emphasized “the opera’s role in diversifying cultural exposure and reaching new audiences.” He aims to position the opera as a “pivotal moment in Saudi Arabia’s cultural evolution, one that will inspire local artists and present Saudi culture on a global stage.”

“I am very proud to write this opera, as it introduces a new artistic and aesthetic perspective in the Kingdom and the broader region,” said Zamanan. “Zarqa Al Yamama embodies a bloody and tearful tragedy depicting ancient history, and at the same time, it symbolizes the sorrows of Arabs in today’s world. However, the production is not devoid of hope, and offers the promise of a bright and happy tomorrow.”

Read Next: Saudi Arabia Set to Open First Ever Opera House in Diriyah

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