The Royal Opera House Muscat has announced its new season with an eclectic programme, encompassing contemporary and classical music, opera and dance.
More than 70 productions are on offer, featuring artists and performance companies spanning the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Europe, South America and Australia.
In addition to popular music artists, such as Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir, Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi and US jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, the stunning venue will host large-scale productions of various operas, including La Traviata and L’Elisir d’Amore, and a pair of concerts dedicated to the work of Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.
All shows will adhere to the health and safety guidelines already in place.
Measures include the venue operating at 50 per cent capacity with social distancing, entry only for those fully vaccinated, temperature checks upon entry and the wearing of face masks in all public indoor and outdoor spaces.
With tickets now available online, here are six things you need to know about the Royal Opera House Muscat’s new season:
1. The opening night
The season begins with a lavish staging of 19th-century opera La Traviata, starring Placido Domingo.
The Spanish singer, known for his rich tenor, will take on the baritone role of Germont on the opening night on September 22.
Performed with Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Carlo Felice, of Italy, the opera by Giuseppe Verdi will also feature guest artists Nino Machaidze and Vittorio Grigolo.
While Domingo will take the stage only on the first night, the production will continue for a further two shows on September 23 and 24.
2. The operas
It is the most performed opera in Germany and the family-friendly Hansel Und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck (the composer born in the 19th century, not the British pop crooner) will be staged by the Deutsche Oper Berlin on October 28 and 29.
The new year will see Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore by Teatro Lirico di Cagliari on January 5 and 7.
Two works from Mozart will also be showcased, beginning with Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) on February 16 and 18 by Milan performing arts school and centre Accademia Teatro alla Scala, followed by Cosi fan Tutte by Opera Australia on May 4 and 6.
3. The Arab stars
The Royal Opera House Muscat will stage intimate concerts by some of the region’s biggest pop stars.
An artist perfectly suited for the occasion is the Iraqi crooner Kadim Al Sahir, who will play three back-to-back shows from October 13 to 15.
After selling out previous shows over the years, Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi also returns with a pair of performances on March 2 and 3.
Two concerts, on December 9 and 10, will be dedicated to the work of influential Egyptian songbird Umm Kulthum. Dubbed Kulthumiyat, the shows will feature performances by singers Yosra Manouch and Mai Farouk.
The Arab concert programme is capped off with Lebanese pop star Assi El Hallani and Egyptian Marwa Nagy sharing the stage for concerts on May 18 and 19.
4. A night at the ballet
After wowing a sold-out crowd at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, in February, Italian Roberto Bolle will bring his gala show to Muscat on December 15 and 16.
Dubbed Roberto Bolle and Friends, the show features a classic and contemporary programme curated by the dancer described as one of the finest of his generation.
Cairo Opera will bring two colourful productions to Muscat, with El Leila el Kebira and Zorba the Greek held on February 24 and 25 respectively.
Opera di Roma Ballet and the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra will team up for the much-loved opera Giselle from March 9 to 11.
5. All that jazz
Two US Grammy Award winners will perform separate gigs in Muscat.
Trumpeter Chris Botti, one of the world’s bestselling instrumental artists, will perform on November 10 and 11, with an extensive set spanning a four-decade career.
He is matched in stature by Kenny Garrett, a saxophonist and flautist who performed as part of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, on January 19 and 20.
6. World music concerts
Peppered throughout the season is a tasteful selection of concerts by international artists showcasing various genres and cultures.
An international folk music festival will be held on January 26 and 27 featuring groups from Oman, the Philippines and Brazil.
On February 2 and 3 the Costa Rica Virtuoso Guitars quartet take to the stage with a programme of Latin American instrumental and chamber music pieces.
Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara brings her fiery feminist message and Afro-pop sounds on February 9 and 10, while US musician Wayne Marshall will play the opera house's pipe organ on May 13 alongside the Czech Boys Choir and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.
More details on performances and tickets for the Royal Opera House Muscat’s new season are available at rohmuscat.org.om