“Saudi Arabia had its first taste of opera earlier this year with a Lebanese company performing their version of a legendary love story about the fabled pre-Islamic warrior and poet Antar and his Bedouin love, Abla,” writes Sebastian Usher on Monday (4/9) at the BBC (U.K.). “It forms part of a hugely ambitious project by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—known as Vision 2030…. The 32-year-old has been seeking foreign partners to realize his vision. The Paris Opera is the latest cultural powerhouse to sign up—with an agreement signed on Monday for it to help set up a national orchestra and opera in Saudi Arabia. Plans for the first opera house in the country’s second city, Jeddah, are already under way…. The biggest cultural deal being signed in France is an agreement for the French to help transform a huge chunk of almost uninhabited land into an immense outdoor museum … to house the country’s archaeological treasures…. Saudi Arabia said in February that it would invest $64bn … in developing its entertainment industry over the next decade. It is all a huge turnaround from the days when Saudi Arabia’s … religious police would bar any public performance of music.”

Posted April 11, 2018