Muscat: The artists have started arriving. The rehearsals have begun as the majestic Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) gets ready to host what promises to be a spectacular 2023-24 season, beginning on September 29 to mid of May 2024.
The curtains will go up with the staging of the famous comical opera, The Barber of Seville, which will be performed on two consecutive days (September 29 and 30).
At a press briefing held on Monday, Umberto Fanni, ROHM’s director general, detailed the season and the opening opera from famed composer Giocchino Rossini.
Fanni, who has been with the ROHM since 2014, said: “We are proud to have such a powerful cast for the opening of the season. With powerful Italian tenor Antonino Siragusa and Russian Maria Kataeva as Mezzo Soprano, The Barber of Seville promises to offer a new experience for the opera lovers in the Sultanate."
“It is one of the most popular operas in the world and is highly-rated. I think it is rated as one of the top-ten operas. This is the second time it is being staged but the latest presentation is from a different production house.”
Fanni, who also serves as the artistic director at ROHM, said: “ROHM is committed to using art as a bridge to connect diverse cultures and traditions.
“We have been working to bring together different cultures through the language of art and the endeavour requires effort and shared expertise. We showcase the potential of art to foster cultural exchange and harmonise traditions from around the world.”
“Theatre builds bridges between different cultures and traditions, and offers opportunities for interaction and dialogue among people.
“Our common goal is to be open to the world, believing that music is a universal language that allows different countries with different cultures to understand and enrich each other,” added Fanni.
He said that ROHM hopes to serve as a centre of excellence for cultural engagement by presenting the world’s best artistic and cultural partnerships and promoting global dialogue.
Fanni said: “The mission is to enrich lives through diverse artistic, cultural, and educational programmes that embrace diversity and promote timeless values. Through the season, we hope to showcase rich and diverse artistic creations for the nation, the region, and the world.
The new season is all about stars, legends and dreams. An amazing 27 shows are planned, including four popular operas, eight exhilarating Arab music concerts and shows, four classical concerts, two extraordinary ballets, one jazz evening, two world music stars, and six spectacular shows.
Speaking about the season, Fanni said: “ROHM is proud to present a season that offers a huge variety of musical performances to inspire different generations and interest from a broad spectrum of audiences. One can choose from classical music, opera, ballet, special acrobatic ballet, jazz, Arabic stars, Arabic music, folk and world music, creative shows, and educational events for children and adults.”
The new season will offer work presented by artists from Italy, France, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, Armenia, the UK, China, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Cuba, Jordan, Paraguay, South Korea, Morrocco, Syria, Russia, USA, Canada, India, and Bahrain among others.
The Barber of Seville is the perfect start to this season, offering warmth, wit, and excellence as a standard by which to enjoy the rest of the year. The incredibly popular opera is one of the most frequently performed around the world.
The opera contains possibly the most famous aria in the world (Largo al factotum), known by its distinctive repetition and long drawn out final ‘o’ in Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figarooooo.
First performed in Rome in 1816, it was the first opera to be performed in Italian in New York, USA.
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is a feast of frivolous fun. Figaro, the barber, needs all his wiles to help Conte d’Almaviva (the handsome suitor) out-wit Dr Bartolo (the legal guardian) and ensure he wins Rosina (the beautiful young ward). This he does by means of bribery, deception, and disguise.
The opera is engaging and funny, as the lives of the characters become more tangled in a tale of love, comedy, and intrigue.
Gioacchino Rossini‘s comic masterpiece fizzes with memorable melodies in an entertaining production. These melodies, delightful arias, and superb musical arrangement have established it as one of the most renowned operas in history.
The production from Teatro de la Maestranza engages star opera singers from the opera stages of today, providing the passion and energy with world class vocal skills and powerful artistic expression.
The stellar cast includes Antonino Siragusa as Conte d’Almaviva, Carlo Lepore as Dr. Bartolo, Nicola Ulivieri as Don Basilio, Maria Kataeva as Rosina, and Vito Priante as Figaro.
Fanni revealed that one of the characters in the opera is a local artist and it emphasises the local integration.
Besides the artist, a special element of the production in Muscat is the participation of the Oman Opera Choir, a selection of professional singers with broad experience at performing with international opera companies from around the world.
Fanni said that the opera will wow the audience with the creative use of set design, lighting, and costumes which contribute to creating a magical and visually stunning atmosphere, enhancing the audience’s experience.
For Maria Kataeva, this is the maiden visit and the Russian soprano, who is settled in Germany, was all praise for the hospitality and impressed by the landscape.
Antonino Siragusa, the Italian tenor, who was present at the press meet along with Maria, this is the third visit and is looking forward to the performance.
Meanwhile, in an effort to attract more audience, ROHM has announced that the new season will see a dynamic pricing structure. An ROHM official confirmed that an average reduction of approximately 30 percent has been implemented throughout the season across different events. The idea is to provide accessibility to more people, with new prices offering affordability to different generations.