Dubai Expo 2020 commissions opera in UAE cultural first

Two-hour production is being created in partnership with Welsh National Opera, will premiere in October next year at Dubai Opera
Dubai Expo 2020 commissions opera in UAE cultural first
Award-winning composer Mohammed Fairouz and author and librettist Maha Gargash, both UAE nationals, will provide the music and dialogue respectively for the opera.
By Sam Bridge
Tue 16 Apr 2019 02:09 PM

Expo 2020 Dubai has commissioned the nation's first opera in a cultural first for the UAE.

Combining Emirati and global talent, Al Wasl will span thousands of years, bringing to life the UAE's rich heritage and sharing its innovative spirit with the world, a statement said.

The two-hour production is being created in partnership with Welsh National Opera and will premiere in October next year at Dubai Opera, aligning with the official opening of Expo 2020.

Performed in both Arabic and English, it will feature more than 100 artists and musicians as well as a production team of 70 professionals.

Award-winning composer Mohammed Fairouz and author and librettist Maha Gargash, both UAE nationals, will provide the music and dialogue respectively for the opera, whose name means "the connection" in Arabic and references the historic name for Dubai.

The narrative will explore the nation's Bedouin roots and the UAE as a forward-thinking modern multi-cultural hub, the statement added.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and director general of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said: "Expo 2020 supports the UAE's wider innovation strategy, which aims to create a lasting positive impact on society. We are proud to highlight Emirati culture and talent through this pioneering opera, which supports the nation's flourishing arts industry. We are excited to showcase a landmark moment in the UAE's cultural history to the world."

Renowned for his operatic works Sumeida's Song, The New Prince and Bhutto, Fairouz is known for his large-scale compositions that engage geopolitical and philosophical themes.

He has been hailed by The New York Times as "an important new artistic voice" and by BBC World News as "one of the most talented composers of his generation".

Gargash is acclaimed for her novels That Other Me and The Sand Fish, as well as her perceptive documentaries that focus on Emirati culture.

Fairouz, said: "In the UAE, we find inspiration in the present by looking to our history with pride and our future with hope. I feel blessed and honoured to be composing an opera in collaboration with Expo 2020, and am excited to showcase this unprecedented work at Dubai Opera next year. Al Wasl shines a light on the rich history of our people and nation, and how we embrace the whole world with humanity and generosity."

Expo 2020 will offer more than 60 live performances a day over 173 days across multiple stages including the magnificent Al Wasl Plaza, which is at the heart of the site.

Expo organisers expect to attract 25 million visits between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021.

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