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Anticipation Builds for Historic Premiere: Saudi Arabia's First Arabic Grand Opera, 'Zarqa Al-Yamama’

With only a few days remaining, anticipation mounts for the inaugural presentation of "Zarqa Al-Yamama," hailed as Saudi Arabia's first grand opera in Arabic, set to grace the stage of the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh on April 25th. This historic occasion, organized under the auspices of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, signals a momentous shift in Saudi Arabia's dynamic cultural environment. Breaking away from the customary use of European languages prevalent in opera, the libretto will instead be presented in Arabic, making it more relatable to the spectators in the region.

The Kingdom's Theater and Performing Arts Commission lauds this occasion as a pivotal moment, acknowledging the rich creative legacy of opera and its universal appeal. "Zarqa Al-Yamama" blends Saudi melodic patterns with elements of classical opera recounting the tale of Zarqa Al-Yamama, a legendary figure from Najd's Al-Yamama region, entangled in a tragic saga of tribal strife during the pre-Islamic era.

The opera, which has been described as a devastating tragedy packed with suspense, is expected to be a sensory feast that combines cutting-edge theatrical talent with captivating orchestral compositions and choir arrangements. The CEO of the Theatre and Performing Arts Commission, Sultan Al-Bazie, highlights the collaborative aspect of the production by praising the fusion of traditional Saudi legacy with modern artistic expression, engaging both local and foreign talents.

The libretto benefits from the poetic skills of renowned Saudi poet Saleh Zamanan, who gives the story depth and emotion. At the same time, homegrown talents like Sawsan Al-Bahiti, Khayran Al-Zahrani, and Reemaz Oqbi play key roles, symbolizing the rapid evolution of musical entertainment within the Kingdom. Al-Bahiti, hailed as Saudi Arabia's first opera singer, expresses her joy at witnessing her long-cherished dream of a homegrown Arabic opera come to fruition.

Amid Saudi Arabia's fast-changing culture, "Zarqa Al-Yamama" stands out as a crucial moment for opera, showing how artistic expression is growing and changing. Al-Bahiti's journey epitomizes the newfound opportunities within the realm of opera, underscoring its growing relevance and appeal. With ten performances scheduled from April 25th to May 4th, the opera promises to captivate audiences with its rich tapestry of emotion and spectacle.

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