Abu Dhabi Festival returns with full programme of live shows

After two years of hybrid performances, the 20th anniversary event goes back to being in person

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. March 23, 2015///

A Night at the Opera: Juan Diego Florez and The Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Gabor Takacs-Nagy. Emirates Palace. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 

Reporter: Saeed Saeed 
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The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation has announced the line-up for next year's Abu Dhabi Festival, which begins on March 1.

Running under the theme of The Will for Evolution, reflecting the UAE’s drive for progress and prosperity, the 20th anniversary of the annual event marks a full return to live performances after two years of hybrid events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The programme includes some internationally renowned and award-winning artists performing in the capital, along with a range of performances taking place in the US and Germany, including shows from globally celebrated opera singers, Grammy-nominated artists and innovative storytellers.

Here are some of the main events planned for the festival.

Juan Diego Florez and Friends

March 1, Emirates Palace

The Abu Dhabi Festival will kick off on March 1 at Emirates Palace with a two-hour performance by acclaimed opera singer Juan Diego Florez.

The Peruvian tenor will take audiences on a musical journey featuring a programme of arias followed by a repertoire of Peruvian and Latin American songs accompanied by a live orchestra.

Throughout his career Florez has performed on the world’s leading stages and is one of opera’s greatest talents. Aside from playing many roles on the operatic stage, Florez is a Grammy-nominated singer and in 2007 was decorated with the Order of the Sun of Peru in the rank of Grand Cross, the highest decoration from the Peruvian government.

Show starts 8pm; from Dh75

Gregory Porter

March 11, Emirates Place

Two-time Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Gregory Porter will be making his UAE debut at the Abu Dhabi Festival on March 11.

Porter is set to perform original tracks from his albums Liquid Spirit (2014) and Take Me to the Alley (2017) and renditions of classics that he will perform with Grammy Award-winning musicians Chip Crawford on piano and Emanuel Harrold on drums, along with Tivon Pennicott on saxophone and horns and Jahmal Nichols on bass.

Porter’s smooth eclectic jazz style that’s rooted in gospel influences has earned him a reputation for enigmatic and mesmerising live performances.

Show starts 8pm; from Dh75

From West to East: A Classical Odyssey

March 17, Emirates Palace

Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun will conduct the Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Modena Pavarotti-Freni and will be joined on stage by world-famous Chinese cellist Jian Wang.

Together they will take audiences on a musical journey encompassing classic repertoires of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, followed by the UAE premiere of his original Pipa Concerto.

Show starts 8pm; from Dh75

Pearl Diver’s Daughter

March 19, Cultural Foundation

Emirati children's author and illustrator Maitha Al Khayat and Emirati composer Eman Al Hashimi have collaborated with American contemporary dance Company E to produce the longest continuous augmented reality experience.

In a story encompassing themes of family, tradition and the perils divers face in the sea, The Pearl Diver's Daughter uses cutting-edge technology blended with choreography, music and storytelling to take audiences of all ages on an epic adventure beneath the waters of the Gulf.

Pre-registration required; abudhabifestival.ae

The Flying Dutchman

May 30 – June 10, The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Centre, New York, US

Co-produced by Abu Dhabi Festival, the Metropolitan Opera and Opera de Quebec, The Flying Dutchman by celebrated German composer Richard Wagner will be performed by bass-baritone Tomasz Konieczny.

Starring as the doomed Dutchman in Wagner's unnerving drama, Konieczny will be joined on stage alongside soprano Elza van den Heever as Senta, the woman determined to save his soul. Tenor Eric Cutler will play the role of Erik the huntsman and bassist Dmitry Belosselskiy will perform as Daland the Norwegian sea captain.

The performance will be conducted by Thomas Guggeis of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with Francois Girard as stage director.

Arabic Music Days

August 2023, Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin, Germany

Curated by renowned Iraqi musician and oud player Naseer Shamma, this celebration of diverse Arabic music will feature a line-up of influential Arab artists, set to perform in Berlin's Frank Gehry-designed music hall, the Pierre Boulez Saal.

New York Arab Orchestra

December 2023, Merkin Hall, New York, US

The New York Arab Orchestra will perform with award-winning violinist and composer Layth Sidiq. The performance will include a medley of songs that celebrate the traditions of Arab music, keeping them vibrant for a global audience.

More information is available at abudhabifestival.ae

Updated: December 20, 2022, 7:56 AM