Saudi Arabia to premiere world’s largest grand Arabic opera in April

Short Url
Updated 13 January 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia to premiere world’s largest grand Arabic opera in April

RIYADH: The Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission announced on Friday the first grand opera to be produced by the Kingdom — the world’s largest grand Arabic opera — which is to be performed by international stars and locally trained talents.

The groundbreaking production, called “Zarqa Al-Yamama,” will debut in April in Riyadh and run until the beginning of May. It will be produced 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.

Based on an ancient tale from pre-Islamic Arabia, “Zarqa Al-Yamama” tells the story of a legendary woman, born of the Jadis tribe and blessed with the gift of foresight. Foretelling the approach of a rival army that threatens to destroy her people, the story follows the eponymous heroine as she tries to warn her leader and his advisers of the imminent danger.

Sultan Al-Bazei, the commission’s CEO, said that opera had an effective role in reaching new audiences and introducing society to diverse art and culture, adding that the production represented a historic moment in the Kingdom’s cultural journey and will help inspire a new generation of Saudi artists while showcasing the the country’s culture to a global audience.

The original score, which was written and composed by Lee Bradshaw, and the libretto, by Saudi writer and poet Saleh Zamanan, feature in a spectacular state-of-the-art production filled with sweeping orchestral and choral performances, and stunning vocals.

World-acclaimed mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly will lead the principal vocal cast in the title role of the opera and will be accompanied by nine prominent Saudi musicians.

Three of the main roles will be performed by the Saudi artists Khayran Al-Zahrani, Sawsan Al-Bahiti, and Reemaz Oqbi, representing the impressive development of the Kingdom’s national music program.

The talented cast also includes the internationally renowned artists Clive Bayley, Amelia Wawrzon, Serena Farnocchia, Paride Cataldo, and George von Bergen.

The orchestrations will be performed by Dresdner Sinfoniker featuring vocal accompaniments by the Czech Philharmonic Choir, and the production includes staging and special effects devised by stage director Daniele Finzi Pasca.

Zamanan said the opera’s story, spirit, and language were rooted in the history of the Arabian Peninsula.

He said: “I am very proud to have written this opera as it introduces a new artistic and aesthetic perspective in the Kingdom and the broader region.

“‘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.”

RIYADH: The Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission announced on Friday the first grand opera to be produced by the Kingdom — the world’s largest grand Arabic opera — which is to be performed by international stars and locally trained talents.

The groundbreaking production, called “Zarqa Al-Yamama,” will debut in April in Riyadh and run until the beginning of May. It will be produced 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.

Based on an ancient tale from pre-Islamic Arabia, “Zarqa Al-Yamama” tells the story of a legendary woman, born of the Jadis tribe and blessed with the gift of foresight. Foretelling the approach of a rival army that threatens to destroy her people, the story follows the eponymous heroine as she tries to warn her leader and his advisers of the imminent danger.

Sultan Al-Bazei, the commission’s CEO, said that opera had an effective role in reaching new audiences and introducing society to diverse art and culture, adding that the production represented a historic moment in the Kingdom’s cultural journey and will help inspire a new generation of Saudi artists while showcasing the the country’s culture to a global audience.

The original score, which was written and composed by Lee Bradshaw, and the libretto, by Saudi writer and poet Saleh Zamanan, feature in a spectacular state-of-the-art production filled with sweeping orchestral and choral performances, and stunning vocals.

World-acclaimed mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly will lead the principal vocal cast in the title role of the opera and will be accompanied by nine prominent Saudi musicians.

Three of the main roles will be performed by the Saudi artists Khayran Al-Zahrani, Sawsan Al-Bahiti, and Reemaz Oqbi, representing the impressive development of the Kingdom’s national music program.

The talented cast also includes the internationally renowned artists Clive Bayley, Amelia Wawrzon, Serena Farnocchia, Paride Cataldo, and George von Bergen.

The orchestrations will be performed by Dresdner Sinfoniker featuring vocal accompaniments by the Czech Philharmonic Choir, and the production includes staging and special effects devised by stage director Daniele Finzi Pasca.

Zamanan said the opera’s story, spirit, and language were rooted in the history of the Arabian Peninsula.

He said: “I am very proud to have written this opera as it introduces a new artistic and aesthetic perspective in the Kingdom and the broader region.

“‘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.”


Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

  • High-profile pilgrims join the millions embarking on the spiritual journey

RIYADH: Every year Muslims from across the world gather in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey for many.

With Hajj beginning on Friday, June 14, pilgrims will congregate in the tent city of Mina, near Makkah.

Among the worshippers will be celebrities taking time out of their busy schedules to connect with their faith.

High-profile figures performing Hajj this year include former Indian professional tennis player and doubles world No. 1 Sania Mirza; UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev; New Zealand heavyweight boxer and former professional rugby player Sonny Bill Williams; Malaysia-based Indian Islamic public orator Zakir Abdul Karim Naik; Pakistani television host and former actress Nida Yasir; and Pakistani actress, film director and producer Reema Khan.

Mirza took to social media to express her hopes and preparations for this “transformative experience,” one of the five pillars of Islam.

In a message on X, she sought “forgiveness for any wrongdoings and shortcomings,” saying that her heart is “filled with gratitude for this chance to seek redemption and spiritual renewal.”

She added: “I pray that Allah accepts my prayers and guides me on this blessed path. I am deeply fortunate and feel immensely grateful. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this journey of a lifetime. I hope to come back as a better human being with a humble heart and stronger Imaan.”

Mirza will be accompanied by her sister Anam, a fashion curator, entrepreneur and vlogger, and Anam’s Indian cricketer husband Mohammad Asaduddin, son of cricketing legend Mohammad Azharuddin.

Taking to Instagram, Anam wrote: “As I embark on the most significant journey of my life, the pilgrimage to Hajj, I wanted to share a few words with you. This journey is not just a physical one, but a deeply spiritual experience that I’ve been preparing for, both in heart and mind. It’s a time for reflection, repentance, and renewal of faith.”

Makhachev, just days after defeating Dustin Poirier in their UFC title clash, said that he and his family are heading to Makkah to perform Hajj.

Hasib Noor, a scholar with Islamic Relief UK, posted a photo with the fighter on X, writing: “In Madinah — The City of True Humanly Brotherly Love. Allah uses him for the benefit of Islam & Muslims, guides others through him.”

Sonny Bill Williams posted a video message on X with the caption: “I’ve been invited to perform Hajj, Alhamdullilah.”

Williams is only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league, and is one of only 43 players to have won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Naik, the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, praised the Hajj arrangements.

In a message posted on X on Tuesday, he said that his family were invited by Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj minister.

It added: “Dr. Zakir Naik landed in Jeddah this morning. Alhamdulillaah 3 officials were there to receive him. On entering the VIP lounge he completed immigration & came out of the airport in less than a minute. Never did Dr. Zakir Naik experience such a fast and prompt service in his life & that too during Hajj.”

Pakistani television host Nida Yasir wrote on Instagram as she departed for Saudi Arabia: “Duaon me yaad rakheaga (remember me in prayers). Leaving for Hajj. Kaha suna mauf (Apologies for any wrongdoings).”

Pakistani actress Reema Khan was in Madinah ahead of Hajj.

Sharing a picture of herself on Instagram, she wrote: “Allhumdullilah arrived in Madinah on Friday morning.”


Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

  • The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital

RIYADH: Doctors working remotely from Riyadh helped a 72-year-old Jordanian pilgrim in Madinah survive a stroke this week, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The medical team specializing in telestroke medicine is affiliated with the Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh, the SPA reported.

The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital.

In a joint effort, doctors from the Ministry of Health, the Seha Virtual Hospital, and the Madinah General Hospital located a brain clot and performed a cerebral catheterization procedure.

The pilgrim is recovering, the SPA said.

A total of 5,466 volunteers, in over 16 locations in Madinah and Makkah, are helping with first aid and emergency care for Hajj pilgrims this year.


Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

For years, Safwan applied for Hajj believing the opportunity would coincide with his retirement plans. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

JEDDAH: Malaysian pilgrim Mohammed Safwan, 66, is finally achieving a decades-long dream of performing Hajj.

Hailing from Johor in the south of the country, Safwan worked as an aviation safety technician for Malaysia Airlines, but after retirement had little savings because he had continued to support his family.

When Malaysia’s government approved Safwan’s Hajj request, his children collected $26,000 so that he could fulfil his dream. 

“Nothing compares to the unity and strength of a family, and no joy can match the elation of realizing a dream cherished by the closest of people,” Safwan told the Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday.


Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

  • The campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth

RIYADH: A campaign on how to choose the proper animals for sacrifice and ensure that it is free of diseases has been launched in Madinah province ahead of Eid Al-Adha. 

Dubbed "My Sacrifice,” the awareness campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"The campaign, which is supervised by a number of specialists and veterinarians, shows the most important and sound methods for preserving meat and keeping it safe from poisoning," SPA said.

MEWA's awareness campaign on animal sacrifice include field visits and tours to livestock markets and an exhibition in one of the commercial complexes in the region. (SPA)

The activities include field visits and tours to livestock markets "to guide beneficiaries on the most important health requirements that must be met by the sacrifice," it added.

Experts will explain how to choose good sacrificial animals, particularly the age.

An awareness-raising exhibition will also be held in one of the commercial complexes in the region, and a children’s studio, the report said.

Eid Al-Adha this year falls on June 16. 

 

 


Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

MAKKAH: Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, the minister of the National Guard, inspected the readiness of ministry forces for the Hajj season, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

This inspection is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure the security of the Hajj, following the directions of the country’s leadership.

During his visit to Makkah’s Al-Shara’i district, Prince Abdullah watched a detailed military parade under the theme of “Ease and Reassurance.”

The parade demonstrated the preparedness and abilities of the ministry’s forces responsible for keeping pilgrims safe during their journey.

Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami listens to a briefing. (SPA)

Separately, Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, the director of Public Security and Chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, inspected the security forces, and the military support authorities participating in serving the pilgrims at the holy sites.

Al-Bassami confirmed that his organization has prepared the required security and organizational plans, which aim to ensure the security, safety and comfort of the pilgrims.

He stressed that the security forces will respond firmly and forcefully to thwart any action that might affect the safety of the pilgrims or whatever hampers facilitating their rituals.