“This weekend Lebanon’s only opera troupe put on the opening public performance of a truly Arabic opera,” writes John Owens on Tuesday (7/12) at Voice of America. The opera, Antar and Abla, is composed by Maroun Rahi, founder of Opera Lebanon and “a leading figure at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory for Music… He teamed up with librettist Antoine Maalouf, among others, for something … ambitious and, Rahi claims, ‘unique.’ The idea was to create an opera to be written and performed in Arabic, using Arabic music, and telling a tale not from Europe but the Middle East…. At the heart of their efforts is a tale based on a sixth-century Arab poet and warrior, Antar, a former slave who falls in love with Abla, a princess.… The 80-strong team assembled to make the idea a reality had no opera house to train in…. Most of the backing cast were choir members from the Conservatory, which also provided the orchestra.” Following the two performances at the Casino du Liban this past weekend, discussions are underway about an international tour. Says Lara Jokhadar, who sings Abla, “It’s important to show another face of Arab culture.”

Posted July 14, 2016