The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia unveils Zarqa Al Yamama

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by Opera Charm Team
February 23, 2024

His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, The Minister of Culture for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, opened the event with a speech, talking of the significance of Zarqa Al Yamama and the wider cultural vision of Saudi Arabia.

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

Zarqa Al Yamama, the first Grand Opera produced by The Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission, one of the 11 sector specific commissions under the Ministry of Culture, was internationally unveiled last night with an exclusive event at London’s historic Goldsmiths’ Hall.

Premiering to the public in Riyadh in April 2024, Zarqa Al Yamama, the first Grand Opera in Arabic will feature locally trained artists alongside international performers to tell the legend of the heroine who was blessed with the gift of foresight.  Attendees at the London event were introduced to a special presentation and musical preview of the grand operawhich delivered a state-of-the-art theatrical production filled with sweeping orchestral movements and mesmerising choral performances.

Reflecting on the international launch of Zarqa Al YamamaSultan Al-Bazie, CEO of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, added:

‘’We are proud to unveil the legend of Zarqa Al Yamama in London, recognised around the world as a leading city for international arts and culture, and are excited to welcome global audiences to Riyadh this April for the premiere of the Opera. Performances like these will inspire the creation of even more spectacular productions and the dawn of more Saudi works to be produced.”

The audience also enjoyed an introduction to the adaptation of the legend of Zarqa Al Yamama by Saudi writer and poet Saleh Zamanan, as well as a presentation of the opera’s music by Ivan Vukcevic, CEO of Arabian Opera.

Principle cast members Dame Sarah Connolly, the world-famous mezzo soprano leading the production in the titular role of Zarqa Al Yamama, as well as sopranos Amelia Wawrzon and Sawsan Albahiti. Audiences marvelled at the special performance by Amelia and Sawsan of the score composed by the renowned Lee Bradshaw.  

The orchestra was performed by the internationally acclaimed Dresdner Sinfoniker led by notable conductor Pablo González, with vocal accompaniments by the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno. World-renownedstage director Daniele Finzi Pasca, producer of major events such as Cirque du Soleil and two Winter Olympic ceremonies, has devised the opera’s stunning staging and special effects.

Through producing works like Zarqa Al Yamama, the Theater and Performing Arts Commission creates opportunities for emerging performers to showcase their talents locally and internationally, sets a standard for future productions, fosters international cultural exchange and represents a major step in the further development of the Kingdom’s opera industry.

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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