RIYADH — The capital city of Riyadh is making preparations for the much anticipated premiere performance of the first Saudi grand opera “Zarqa Al-Yamama” on April 25 and its show will run through until May 4 at the theater of the King Fahd Cultural Center. This is the first grand opera produced in the Kingdom and the largest Arabic grand opera ever staged.

The opera, produced by the Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission, presents a timeless story from the depth of the heritage of the Arabian Peninsula, through a breathtaking and exceptional performance that brings together a large number of prominent Saudi and international actors and musicians.

“Zarqa Al Yamama,” is based on a pre-Islamic Arabian legend, tells the compelling story of a woman from the Geddes tribe, endowed with the power of foresight. Zarqa al-Yamama, a legendary blue-eyed woman from the Al-Yamama region, was known for her exceptional intuition, sharp eyesight, and ability to predict events before they occurred. The opera depicts her efforts to warn her leader about an impending enemy attack, highlighting her struggle and foresight in the face of skepticism.

The opera features an original score by Lee Bradshaw and a libretto by Saudi writer and poet Saleh Zamanan. It promises a rich, multi-dimensional experience with its combination of orchestral and choral music, intricate storytelling, and powerful vocal performances.

Leading the cast is Dame Sarah Connolly, a world-renowned mezzo-soprano, in the title role. The opera also showcases Saudi talent, with key roles performed by Khayran Al Zahrani, Sawsan Albahiti, and Reemaz Oqbi. This casting reflects the significant progress of Saudi Arabia's national music program.

The Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission celebrated the launch of the Zarqa Al-Yamama Opera with an official announcement ceremony at Goldsmiths Hall in London last month.

Under the patronage of Minister of Culture and Chairman of the commission Badr bin Abdullah, the event heralded the start of the production of what is touted as the first and largest Arab opera show.

This innovative production aims to blend Arabic and Western musical traditions in an unprecedented fusion, promising to make a significant contribution to the global cultural scene.

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