Welsh National Opera team up with Expo 2020 Dubai UEA from October 2021 to March 2022

Expo 2020 Dubai has commissioned the first Emirati opera produced in collaboration with Welsh National Opera to celebrate the United Arab Emirates, as part of Expo 2020 Dubai UEA which runs from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Al Wasl Opera will be sung in English and Arabic and push the message of the UEA being based on “unity and connectivity” as a nation and “a connector between civilisations”.

WNO general director Aiden Lang is working with the composer Mohammed Fairouz and librettist Maha Gargash. He visited Dubai back in late 2019 to hear the first reading by Mr Fairouz. The work is translated as Connection from the Arabic. The story stretches from the Iron Age to the 22nd century.

The two hour long hour work will feature more than 100 artists and musicians, and a production team of 70.

WNO has also designed accessible workshops for younger school children.

There will be a 30 minute children’s choral concert called ‘Nasheed Al Wasl’ to be accompanied by a professional orchestra performing extracts from Al Wasl Opera on Jubilee Park stage at Expo 2020 Dubai. The programme will premiere when Expo opens its door in 2021, followed by a series of performances throughout the six months of Expo 2020 Dubai.

A black and white portrait of Al Wasl Opera Composer Mohammed Fairouz

Composer Mohammed Fairouz said, “There is nothing more universal than opera and the theatre to bring people together. I figured that if people can laugh together and cry together, then anything is possible between them. They know one another in that moment.”

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said, “We wanted to create something new for Expo 2020 Dubai that reflects the dynamic, diverse and tolerant nature of contemporary UAE and our deep-rooted culture and heritage. A landmark opera, which supports the UAE’s flourishing arts industry, is the perfect way for us to do this.”

When in Dubai Mr Lang said, “It’s about one of the most pressing themes facing humanity – our survival, climate change with a very neat parallel of Saruq Al Hadid and why it disappeared,.” Saruq Al Hadid is an archaeological site 60 kilometres south of Dubai that thrived from the Bronze Age until medieval times despite being more than 40km from the waters of the Gulf and its distance from the copper-ore mountains of Oman. At its heart is an important message as the opera takes us to where we are today and to a global crisis in the future in 2153. The beauty is it deals with big themes without lecturing, and the music has the ability to speak universally.”

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