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First Ever Grand Opera Debuts In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
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The first-ever Grand Opera produced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia premiered inside the newly renovated main hall of the King Fahad Culture Centre, Riyadh.

Performed by the Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission, Zarqa Al Yamama is a new international production bringing to life one of the most iconic tales from pre-Islamic Arabia.

The production tells the story of the eponymous heroine and her struggle to warn the Jadis tribe about the approach of a hostile army that threatens to annihilate her people.

Speaking at the premiere, Sultan Al-Bazie, CEO of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, commented:

“It is our privilege to have unveiled the legend of Zarqa Al Yamama to the modern world and to use one of our most beloved national stories as the launch of the next chapter for Saudi Arabia’s cultural prosperity.

“This production represents an achievement in international cultural exchange, and in bringing together outstanding Saudi-born talent with leading singers and technicians from all over the world, and we are delighted to have showcased the first performance in a new series of arts experiences inspired by the rich tapestry of stories from Saudi folklore.’’

Performed exclusively in Arabic, written by the award-winning Saudi poet Saleh Zamanan and adapted into an original musical score by Australian composer Lee Bradshaw, under the creative direction of Ivan Vukcevic.

The titular role of Zarqa was performed by world-acclaimed mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, alongside a principle cast of leading international artists including Amelia Wawrzon, Serena Farnocchia, Paride Cataldo, Aleksandar Stefanoski and George von Bergen.

Of the nine main roles, three were performed by Saudi-born singers, including tenor Khayran Al Zahrani, with sopranos Sawsan Albahiti and Reemaz Oqbi as bridesmaids, representing a major step in the development of the Kingdom’s national music programme.

Led by conductor Pablo González, the two-act opera was performed by the Dresdner Sinfoniker and featured vocal accompaniments by the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno.

The transformative staging and special effects were devised by internationally renowned stage director Daniele Finzi Pasca.

Zarqa Al Yamama will continue to run at the 2,700-seat King Fahad Cultural Centre, Riyadh, for a total series of ten performances, closing on Saturday 4 May 2024.

Tickets for Zarqa Al Yamama – starting from 100 SAR/£20/$26 – can be booked via the official website: https://dc.moc.gov.sa/home/event-tickets/208/zarqaa-al-yamama-opera/.

More information on Riyadh hotels and travel packages can be found at www.visitsaudi.com.

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