Zeffirelli to open first opera house in Arabia

Zeffirelli to open first opera house in Arabia


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2011

Mark the date: 12 October 2011.

The Royal Opera House  Muscat still has a Coming Soon website but wagging tongues say it’s going to open in six weeks’ time with Franco’s Z’s jumbo Turandot, followed by a Carmen, who may be a little more decorous than usual.

Zeffirelli had Salvatore Licitra inked in as his Calaf. No word yet of a replacement since the outstanding tenor suffered his terrible accident.



  • William Nicholson says:

    Should someone organise a protest? Terrible human rights, over there, you know!

  • Sally says:

    Actually William, that’s not true of Muscat, at all.

  • William Nicholson says:

    At all? All I have to go on is The Guardian: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/04/oman-sultan-qaboos-despot) as I have no cultural knowledge of the place.

  • Janey says:

    According to Renee Fleming’s website, she will headline the opening night concert with Joana Carneiro conducting.

  • SBE says:

    William – I realise this isn’t a forum for middle eastern politics, but as someone who has lived in Muscat for nearly 2 years (as well as being involved in the music scene in Oman) I can tell you that the article is rather onesided. The word “despot” immediately conjures negative connotations – as does “tyrant”, “dictator” etc etc. And in my opinion that is not the Sultan of Oman. I can honestly say that after more than 30 years in the UK I would much rather be living in Muscat at this time than in London. I can’t summarise any better than someone already did in the comments section of the Guardian article: –

    “Democracy doesn’t seem to work unless a period of social liberalisation occurs in a society first. This man’s just the sort to act as a guiding hand to society, which can then become fully democratic when ready. The alternative is a popular uprising against a despot, which leads to either radicals taking power, or quick elections that result in populist reactionary parties coming to power (and probably not leaving it once in).”

    No country or state is perfect – but Oman has well deserved recognition from the United Nations, being listed (in 2010) as the most improved country over the last 40 years. All of which is down to Sultan Qaboos (he took power in 1970).

  • Anne S says:

    Interesting. I wonder how much of an audience is expected . I was not aware of significant interest in Opera in the Gulf countries, though there are thousands of “western” expats in the neighborhood. Do we know if the Opera House will have a resident orchestra or if there will be any local participation, ie musicians, chorus singers etc? or is the wholeproduction going to be imported?