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Muscat Daily staff writer
May 23, 2017
The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) on Monday announced that the 2017-18 season will be titled A Legendary Season.
The new season will open on September 14 with Giuseppe Verdi’s grand masterpiece, Aida. ROHM will have a wide range of top quality productions in different genres – opera, concert, ballet and dance, Arab performance, jazz, world music, family and education, musical show and special event.
The opera house will also mark its sixth anniversary on October 12. H H Sayyid Kamil bin Fahad al Said, member of the ROHM Board, said, “In anticipating a wonderful programme for the seventh year of ROHM, with 35 outstanding new programmes and 55 performances, we unveil an inspiring theme for the 2017-18 season: A Legendary Season. Not only does our new season offer an abundance of performers with legendary reputations, but also it is set to further brand the Royal Opera House as a legendary place where dreams of civilisations are realised. “Our diverse programming spans cultures across the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, opening a myriad of windows on the world, while inviting the world to discover Oman’s distinctive cultural traditions and its contemporary achievements.”
Umberto Fanni, director general, ROHM said, “Among several important points of interest about ROHM’s new season is that, in presenting another new coproduction, this time of Bellini’s Norma with Opéra de Rouen, the ROHM is continuing on the path of transformation from a predominantly hosting institution to a theatre that also creates its own productions in-house. I am also extremely pleased with the number and quality of performers who are featured across different genres in both Western and Arab programmes and who inspired us to call 2017-2018: A Legendary Season.
More stunning operas, including an ROHM co-production   
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 byTeatro dell’Opera di Roma,Ruggero Leoncavallo’s late nineteen-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 ROHM and Opéra de Rouen.
ROHM’s balanced opera programming also includes two delightful, heart-warming operas that give us incredible joy and insight – Gioachino Rossini’s L’Occasione fa il Ladro (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 il Ladro is masterfully performed by the Rossini Opera Festival, while Fondazione Arena di Verona will give a brilliant performance of La Sonnambula .
Legendary voices
The year 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the greatest singers of all time – the legendary Luciano Pavarotti. ROHM pays tribute to him in Homage to Luciano Pavarotti, a gala concert as well as 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 – Fiorenza Cedolins, Sumi Jo, Marcello Giordani and Francesco Meli. This is sure to be an unforgettable, soul-soaring concert.
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 Álvarez.
The roster of superstars includes none other than Sir Cliff Richard, the rock legend who has sold more than 250mn records worldwide over the past five decades. The fabulous 2017-18 schedule also features Dianne Reeves, a living jazz legend who has won more than five Grammy Award 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 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.
Great Arab Performances
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.
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, Lotfi Bushnak 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.
Rising Omani star, Salah al Zadjali will sing well-loved songs that will make joyous, intimate connections with the audience. On the same programme, Egyptian singer Medhat Saleh will perform his popular romantic songs, as well as songs from the legendary Abdel Halim Hafez such as Ahwak, At Taubah and others.
The singer and composer Majid el Mohandes, currently one of the greatest names in the Arab music community, will perform songs from his hit albums, such as Ouzkourini and Waheshni Moot. An evening of traditional Arab songs features Ali Al Haggar, specialising in Maqam and traditional rhythms and Jahida Wehbe, a very famous Lebanese singer with a powerful voice that captures the hearts of listeners.
Rising star, Badr Rami, a Moroccan-born Syrian artist versed in both classical and contemporary Arab music, is featured in an evening of Muwashahat and Kudud Halabiya, poetic forms of music originating in Aleppo and Andalusia.
The last production in ROHM’s Arab series, a spectacular musical play by Rahbani Production, On the Land of Gypsies, has the honour of bringing the 2017-18 Season to a close.
A Special Show
Each season at the ROHM we take our audiences around the world and, for the first time, we stop in Vietnam to bring to ROHM an imaginative production called À Ố Show which enacts the graceful beauty for which Vietnam is known.
Ballet, Dance - and a musical
The first ballet of the season is perhaps the greatest ballet of all time – Swan Lake. Itwill be performed in the gorgeous classical style by Kazakhstan’s prestigious State Opera and Ballet Theatre “Astana Opera” and the world-class Orchestra of Teatro Carlo Felice of Genova. It’s a magnificent, romantic production with beautiful period costumes created by the Academy-Award-winning, Tony-nominated costume designer, Franca Squarciapino and atmospheric sets by the distinguished Italian designer, Ezio Frigerio.
In an unusual show with the intriguing title, Pas de Deux for Fingers and Toes , music and movement come together in a supreme expression of beauty by Vadim Repin, the man whom Yehudi Menuhin called the “best and most perfect violinist” and Svetlana Zakharova, the woman who became prima ballerina of the Bolshoi and a shining Étoile of Teatro alla Scala. Together they create an ethereal pas de deux in magical realms evocative of dreams.
This season ROHM is venturing to into avant-garde ballet with a new take on Cinderella with brilliant choreography by Maguy Marin. Performed by Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, the production is set in a doll’s house with costumes to suit. Sergei Prokofiev’s amazing music is played by the superb PKF- Prague Philharmonia.
ROHM returns to Tango with a thrilling show called Recital CanTANGO. One of the world’s favourite dances, the stunningly stylish and romantic Argentinian tango is danced and its story is recited in song with the extraordinary participation of tenor Fabio Armiliato.
ROHM’s 2017-18 dance programme is completed by an evening of traditional dances from around the world by one today’s greatest traditional dance companies, – the Russian Igor Moiseyev Ballet.
The musical for ROHM’s Legendary Season is Peter Pan in an award-winning new productionfor people of all ages.
One of the special highlights of the concert programme is ROHM’s annual Pipe Organ Concert, which in the new season will feature the famous British organist, pianist and conductor, Wayne Marshall playing ROHM’s magnificent organ and also conducting the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.
In two fabulous concerts the astoundingly virtuoso Russian violinist, Sergej Krylov will play with the prestigious Russian National Orchestra conducted by conducted by Pier Carlo Orizio. Audiences will hear beautiful, breath-taking music by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Rimsky-Korsakov andRavel.
The tremendously popular, world-famous Alexandrov Red Army Chorus will perform with an impressive cast of robust male singers. And, as an added attraction, the Red Army dance troupes will bring spectacular acrobatic action to the concert.
Special events for children and families
ROHM is pleased to announce another totally wonderful interactive production for children – The Moth Princess, a delightful participative opera based on Puccini’s great masterpiece, Turandot . Children will sing in Italian, Arabic and English and propel the action with handmade props. They will be thrilled when the Moth Princess emerges as a butterfly. 
Also specially designed for children is a delightful new presentation of Peter and the Wolf, featuring a shadow puppet show with arias about animals and a screening of Peter & The Wolf LIVE, an animation that won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, accompanied by the Orchestra of Opéra de Rouen playing Prokofiev’s brilliant score.
There will also be three special matinées – Swan Lake in all its ethereal beauty, the innovative opera Cinderella with its dollhouse setting, and a charming production called À Ố Show that enacts the graceful beauty for which Vietnam is known.
ROHM’s popular education and outreach events                                              
ROHM’s successful new Coffee & Dates with Artists series will continue in conversations with eight stars from ROHM’s Legendary Season, including Cliff Richard. The Pre-Performance Talks will present nine sessions offering lively discussions and illuminating insights. There will be four Open House events including: the Pavarotti exhibition; “Animal World”, an event related to the Peter and the Wolf; a Tango class; and “Clown for a Day”, an event that is bound to be a lot of fun!  ROHM’s 2017-2018 Open Houses are freshly designed to be entertaining and educational experiences that include workshops on music and art specially made for children, teenagers and families. ROHM introduces Lunch Music, a new series of delightful concerts at lunchtime, to enjoy popular operatic arias resounding in the luxurious Galleria: The concerts will feature the artists involved in the productions and will prepare the audience to the operas. 
ROHM will again recruit extras to appear on stage for ROHM’s co-production of the opera Norma and other large-scale performances – which will be announced through media channels, social media and on its official website.
Tickets for the shows will go on sale from May 23.
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