A new season begins at Royal Opera House Muscat

13 Sep 2017
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Y Magazine sits down with Umberto Fanni, Director General of Royal Opera House Muscat, for a chat on the flavour of the new season.

The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) tunes in to its seventh season with dream events that offer a chance to people in Oman to see some of the world-renowned performers up close and personal. From opera, concerts, ballet, jazz, musicals to special events, the choice on the menu is awesome and all-encompassing. Also, ROHM is paying tribute to Pavarotti with a gala concert featuring four amazing singers: FiorenzaCedolins, Sumi Jo, Marcello Giordani and Francesco Meli. Among the highlights will be nine Omani and Arab performances.

The 2017-2018 season is titled “A Legendary Season.” Brief us about the upcoming season

The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is set to commence its seventh season with a wide range of top quality productions in many different genres – opera, concerts, ballet and dance, Arab performances, jazz, world music, family and education, musicals and shows, and special events. This rich diversity of top-notch programmes has become a hallmark of the Royal Opera House Muscat that is recognised all over the world. The new season will open on September 14 with Giuseppe Verdi’s grand masterpiece, Aida, set in ancient Egypt and brilliantly performed by world-class artists in an excellent production by Teatro Regio Torino.

There are two more great romantic tragedies, which, like Aida, take us into the deeper realms of human passion. Staged by the world-famous stage director Franco Zeffirelli and performed by Teatrodell’Opera di Roma, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s late nineteenth-century opera, Pagliacci, is based on a real-life story about a clown who makes people laugh while his own life falls apart. ROHM’s presentation of Norma, Vincenzo Bellini’s magnificent belcanto masterpiece relating the tale of a Druid priestess and her ill-fated love for a Roman conqueror, will be a very special event as the opera is co-produced by the ROHM and Opéra de Rouen.

We also have two delightful, heart-warming operas that give us incredible joy and insight – Gioachino Rossini’s L’Occasione fa
ilLadro (Opportunity Makes a Thief), a delightfully funny, beautifully sung story of identity theft and mixed-up rival lovers; and
La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker), Bellini’s enchanting belcanto opera about a beautiful young orphan who almost loses her beloved fiancé when she sleepwalks into the wrong room. L’Occasione fa ilLadro is masterfully performed by the Rossini Opera Festival, while Fondazione Arena di Verona will give a brilliant performance of La Sonnambula.

This year marks the 10th death anniversary of Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest singers of all time. Is ROHM paying tribute to the legend?

Yes, ROHM is paying tribute to him with a gala concert titled HomageLuciano Pavarotti. We are also holding an exhibition of
treasured Pavarotti memorabilia —running from December 14 to January 6, 2018. The gala concert features four amazing singers who are in demand on the world’s best stages: FiorenzaCedolins, Sumi Jo, Marcello Giordani and Francesco Meli. This is sure to be an unforgettable, soul-soaring concert.

Are there any Omani-related concerts during this season at ROHM?

Among the many highlights in ROHM’s 2017-2018 series of nine Omani and Arab performances are the annual Omani Women’s Day Celebration, featuring talented Yemeni singer Balqees and ROHM’s greatly loved Military Music: Oman and the World, with hundreds of musicians marching in dress uniform on the Maidan. The Oman Royal Symphony Orchestra Ladies Ensemble and musicians from the Oman Oud Hobbyists Association will play at the Women’s Day Celebration; and the military music event will put the spotlight on two guest military bands from Asia and Europe. Apart from that, rising Omani star Salah al Zadjali will sing well-loved songs that will make joyous, intimate connections with the audience. I am also happy to say that the Royal Opera House Muscat is continuing on the path of transformation from a predominantly hosting institution to a theatre that also creates its own productions in-house.

How does ROHM work to attract tourists and residents to its variety of shows and events?

The ROHM is in itself an attraction that brings tourists to the city, not only because of its renowned contemporary Omani architecture but also because of its stellar programming. Our selection of events at ROHM is very balanced, which include a broad range of genres encompassing opera, symphonic concerts, both vocal and instrumental recitals, ballet, musicals, world shows, jazz, productions for families and children as our own original productions and special events. This could be the reason why we had more than 90% occupancy in all our events last season. It is worth noting that our opera is one of its kind in the entire GCC.

What are the educational and outreach initiatives at the Royal Opera House?

We have some great education outreach initiatives at ROHM and last year more than 10,000 students participated in our open-house events. These initiatives take place in the main building which houses the auditorium and also in the equally stunning commercial Opera Galleria wing of the ROHM complex. We are now engaged in further efforts to expand and deepen our relationships with private and public schools in Muscat.


  • ROHM’s 2017-18 galaxy of opera stars also includes luminaries such as Roberto Alagna, one of the most celebrated tenors in the world, in a special gala concert with renowned soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak, in addition to another concert by the universally acclaimed tenor, Marcelo A’lvarez.

  • The roster of superstars also includes Sir Cliff Richard, the rock legend who has sold more than 250 million records worldwide over the past five decades. The fabulous 2017-18 schedule also features Dianne Reeves, a living jazz legend who has won five Grammys and several other awards, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “the most admired jazz diva since Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday”.

  • Another legendary star is Gilberto Gil, known as “The Soul of Brazil”, a multiple Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist and a songwriter. Gilberto is known for his intelligently innovative music, deep musicality and quiet charisma. Platinum award-winning singer and songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway will sing some of Barbra Streisand’s timeless classics.

  • Arab concerts will feature contemporary legends like Sami Yusuf, named by The Guardian as “the biggest British star in the Middle East”. Other Arab superstars include the singer, oud player and composer, LotfiBushnak, who will perform with the acclaimed Egyptian singer, Mohammed Tharwat, in a concert enriched by the beautiful voices of Retaj, a choir of young Omanis devoted to Inshad.

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