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Riyadh to Host First Grand Saudi Opera ‘Zarqa Al-Yamama’ April 25th

Drawing inspiration from a pre-Islamic Arabic folkloric tale, ‘Zarqa Al Yamama’ is the world’s largest grand opera in Arabic.

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Riyadh to Host First Grand Saudi Opera ‘Zarqa Al-Yamama’ April 25th

Saudi Arabia’s Theatre and Performing Arts Commission announced the first Saudi grand opera ‘Zarqa Al Yamama’, scheduled to premiere in Riyadh on April 25th. 

Drawing inspiration from a pre-Islamic Arabic folkloric tale, ‘Zarqa Al Yamama’ stands as the world’s largest grand opera in Arabic, showcasing the Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage on a global stage. As part of the Saudi Vision 2030, the project aims to introduce innovative production infrastructure to contribute to the development of the local arts scene. 

‘Zarqaa Al Yamama’ presents a tragedy that intricately blends Western opera culture with Saudi ancient history, symbolizing the sorrows Arabs face in today’s world. The opera revolves around the story of Zarqa, a blue-eyed woman born of the Geddes tribe and blessed with the gift of foresight. The story follows the eponymous heroine as she foresees the impending threat of a rival army that could destroy her people, and tries to warn her leader and his advisors.

‘Zarqa Al Yamama’ features an ensemble cast led by world-acclaimed mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly DBE, portraying the role of the protagonist Zarqa, with three of the other main roles performed by Saudi artists. The principal cast members also include Polish opera singer Rafal Siwek, Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia, and Australian/Polish soprano Amelia Wawrzon. The Saudi Grand Opera is conducted by Spanish orchestra conductor Pablo González, accompanied by Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno, and directed by world-renowned stage director Daniele Finzi Pasca. 

Meanwhile, renowned Australian composer Lee Bradshaw collaborated with Saudi poet Saleh Zamanan on the opera’s score, to create a story that would resonate with both local and global audiences. The duo phoneticized the score, translating it into Latinised Arabic to ensure the music reflected the classic Arabic rhythms and maintained the language’s distinctive intonation.

‘Zarqa Al Yamama’ is set to run for a series of eight performances at the newly refurbished King Fahad Cultural Centre in Riyadh. To book your tickets, head to moc.gov.sa/en.

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