Royal Opera House Muscat's 2022 season includes singer Saber Rebai and 'Swan Lake'

All shows will take place under strict health and safety measures

Live performances will return to the Royal Opera House Muscat from January 2022.

The stunning venue in the Omani capital has announced its 10th season with an eclectic programme encompassing contemporary and classical music, opera, dance and acrobatics.

In addition to popular music artists, such as Tunisia’s Saber Rebai and US jazz star Chris Botti, and companies such as the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus, the opera house will host the last production by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019.

All shows will adhere to the health and safety guidelines in place. Some of the measures include entry only for those fully vaccinated, social distancing, temperature checks upon entry and the wearing of face masks in all public indoor and outdoor spaces at the venue.

With tickets now available online, here are five things you need to know about the Royal Opera House Muscat’s new season:

1. Arab pop stars are to shine

An eclectic array of Arabic artists will perform at the regal venue. Sounding the opening notes will be Saber Rebai. The Tunisian crooner will open the season with two concerts on Thursday and Friday, January 6 and 7.

For a classical twist on Arabic popular music, fans will get to enjoy two shows by Omar Khairat.

The Egyptian pianist is renowned for his emotive compositions that featured in a variety of hit Ramadan television dramas in the 1980s. He takes to the stage on Thursday and Friday, November 24 and 25.

Lebanese singer Melhem Zein will also return to Muscat. His muscular voice is inspired by Lebanon's folk music tradition and fans can expect an impactful gig featuring solo and classic hits.

He will perform on Thursday and Friday, May 19 and 20.

2. There will be an opera world premiere

Opera fans will be treated to a world premiere of Franco Zeffirelli's Rigoletto.

The final stage show by the Italian director, who died in 2019, is a lavish production of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece. It will feature Italy’s Arena di Verona orchestra and choir under the baton of British conductor Jan Latham-Koenig.

The opera, originally planned to be staged in December, will now be seen over three consecutive nights beginning on Thursday, January 20.

The production will be particularly poignant as the opera house announced itself to the world in 2011, with an opening-night production of Puccini's Turandot, also directed by Zeffirelli.

"The intrinsic synchronicity of celebrating our 10th anniversary season with a wonderful work by the same great director with whom we opened our first season, gives this moment a special significance," Royal Opera House Muscat director general Umberto Fanni tells The National.

"With Puccini's Turandot in 2011 we began a wonderful relationship and a journey full of hope for the Royal Opera House Muscat. Now, with Rigoletto, we mark the achievement of a decade of brilliant musical performances, with the anticipation of many more to come."

For those in search of a more musical experience, The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra will be on hand on Thursday, March 10, for an evening of masterpieces by 19th century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

3. Classical and innovative dance shows

Passionate ballets are also on the Royal Opera House Muscat programme.

Key productions include the star-crossed tale of Anastasia, performed by The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre from Belarus.

Beginning on Thursday, February 3, the production will run for three back-to-back nights. The performance programme will end in eye-popping fashion with Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe's retelling of the ballet masterpiece Swan Lake. The Chinese company will play the final three dates of the season, from Thursday to Saturday, May 26 to 28.

4. Omani culture on display

The Sultanate's rich cultural scene will also be displayed over two eclectic events.

On Friday and Saturday, February 11 and 12, Omani dancers will collaborate with international singers and musicians for a show dubbed Oman World Folk Music Festival. Each performance will feature a narrative thread exploring the traditions of Oman's various regions.

During Ramadan, two Omani ensembles will perform songs of praise in separate concerts. On Thursday, April 7, the Areej Ensemble of Oman will be joined by Syria’s Sheikh Hamed Dawood Group and the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus.

On Thursday, April 21, Al Zawya Band of Oman and Egypt's Monshed Masr will perform an evening of devotional songs called nasheeds.

5. All that jazz

Two masters of their respective genres will also grace the stage of the Royal Opera House Muscat.

US jazz star, the trumpeter Chris Botti, will bring his Grammy Award-winning fusion of contemporary jazz and popular music for two shows on Thursday and Friday, January 27 and 28.

And if you haven't yet had the opportunity to hear the soulful sound of Fado music from Portugal, Carminho is the perfect way to start. The singer and her band will channel the passion and melancholy of the music form for one night on Saturday, February 26.

More details on performances and tickets for the Royal Opera House Muscat’s 2022 season are at rohmuscat.org.om

Updated: November 4th 2021, 10:23 AM