From ‘Mamma Mia!’ to 'Anna Karenina': 12 shows to see at Dubai Opera in 2021

West End smash hit, classical music, Arabic pop and stand-up comedy, all feature on this year's programme

'Mamma Mia!' will be one of the first big productions to be staged at Dubai Opera since the pandemic began. Courtesy Dubai Opera
'Mamma Mia!' will be one of the first big productions to be staged at Dubai Opera since the pandemic began. Courtesy Dubai Opera

Some theatres may still be shuttered around the world, but the curtains are raised at Dubai Opera.

The Downtown Dubai venue continues to build a programme of events for the year, each cementing its stature as one of the region’s key cultural destinations.

From classical concerts featuring seasoned talent and shows by acclaimed Arabic artists to stand-up comedy and a blockbuster musical, the coming calendar aims to please all tastes.

While Dubai Opera's online list of safety measures does not require patrons to be fully vaccinated at present, visitors should check the venue's website for updates.

Here are 12 shows to check out at the venue in 2021.

1. Faia Younan: Thursday, July 8

Born in Aleppo, Syria, before migrating to Sweden aged 7, Younan made her voice known courtesy of her YouTube song To Our Countries, which went regionally viral in 2014.

A year later, Younan relocated to Beirut to dedicate herself to a music career. In addition to two well-received albums, such as the 2017's A Sea Between Us, Younan also featured on the single Busted and Blue released the same year by UK group Gorillaz.

Concert begins at 9pm; tickets from Dh295

2. The Sound of Hollywood: Friday, July 9

Relive your favourite film moments as the Dubai Opera Big Band perform select pieces from classic and popular films.

From The Pink Panther and James Bond to Kill Bill and Austin Powers, the ensemble – featuring musicians from the UAE and the wider Gulf – should delight film and music buffs alike.

Show times are 2pm and 8pm; tickets from Dh145

3. Ragheb Alama: Thursday and Friday, July 15 and 16

Lebanese crooner Ragheb Alama will don a slick black suit once again for his return to Dubai Opera.

Expect a set of evocative balladry and Lebanese pop tracks, including signature songs Nasini El Donya, Habib Albi and Tar El Balad.

Alama may even perform some new material such as recently released patriotic song Bous El Al Aalam and the summery El Haya Ala Osolha.

Concert begins at 9pm; tickets from Dh400

4. The Show W Bass: Saturday, July 17

Lebanese television personality Hisham Haddad will host a night of Arabic laughs.

The Show W Bass features the cream of the Lebanese stand-up comedy scene, including Tony Abou Jaoude, Jad Bou Karam and Amal Taleb.

Concert begins at 8.30pm; tickets from Dh250

5. No Mercy: Friday, September 10

“Where do you go, my lovely?” Get ready to hear one of the most popular pop refrains of the 90s when No Mercy return to Dubai.

Ever since emerging in 1995, the former trio – now reduced to solo singer Marty Cintron – blended Mediterranean folk with Europop beats for hits including When I Die, Missing and Please Don't Go. But it is their 1996 global hit Where Do You Go that the crowds really want to hear.

Speaking to The National in 2012, Cintron recalled the song being written by committee.“The song was written around the same formula of Missing,” he said. “We got a team together, a couple of German authors wrote the lyrics and it was my idea to put Spanish guitars on it.”

Concert begins at 9pm; tickets from Dh195

6. ‘Mamma Mia!’: Monday to Wednesday, September 13 to 22

Smash-hit musical Mamma Mia! will make its UAE premiere with an 11-day run.

The West End comedy smash is set to the hits of the Swedish pop group Abba, while telling the tale of a single mother, her daughter and three possible fathers.

Songs featured include Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes it All and I Have a Dream.

Show times are 8pm and 2pm (Friday and Saturday matinees); tickets from Dh295

7. ‘Farruquito’: Thursday, September 30

Spanish choreographer and dancer Juan Manuel Fernandez Montoya brings his celebrated flamenco production to Dubai. The show explores the origins of the dance form and its "essence".

Farruquito will also feature original songs by an accompanying band.

Show begins at 8pm; tickets from Dh250

8. ‘Rigoletto’: Monday and Tuesday, October 11 and 12

This 19th-century opera cemented Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi's place as one of the masters of the form.

Based on Victor Hugo's play Le Roi s'Amuse, Rigoletto is a dark fairy tale that centres around the title character, a court jester whose charm and viciousness could spell his and his family's destruction.

The production is performed by Russia's St Petersburg Opera.

Show begins at 8pm; tickets from Dh300

9. ‘Devdas - The Musical’: Thursday to Saturday, October 21 to 23

Bollywood meets Broadway in this lavish production.

Devdas - The Musical is based on the 2002 film starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Backed by a heart-rending soundtrack composed by Ismail Darbar, the plot follows the lives of Devdas and Paro, star-crossed lovers whose lives are affected by seemingly endless obstacles.

Show begins at 8pm; tickets from Dh275

10. Guy Manoukian: Friday, November 19

The Lebanese-Armenian pianist and composer sold out the venue on his past three visits.

Manoukian is known for fusing eastern and western styles, and for his modern takes on Arabic orchestral classics.

Concert begins at 8pm; tickets from Dh250

11. ‘Dial M for Murder’: Monday and Tuesday, November 22 and 23

In a stage production of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic film, seasoned British actor Tom Chambers (Holby City and Casualty) leads the cast as Tony Wendice, an embittered tennis player who, upon discovering his wife's affair, begins to plot the "perfect crime".

Show begins at 8pm; tickets from Dh200

12: 'Anna Karenina': Thursday to Saturday, December 2 to 4

A ballet by Boris Eifman, the Russian choreographer channels the passion and moral ambiguity of Leo Tolstoy's 1878 novel into this story of a love triangle spanning various levels of society.

“Ballet is a very specific realm where psychological drama is re-enacted and fulfilled,” Eifman says of his approach to the show. “It is an opportunity to get an insight into the subconscious. Every new production is a search for the unknown.”

Show begins at 8pm and 2pm (Friday and Saturday matinees); tickets from Dh340

For more details on shows, visit


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Updated: June 24, 2021 11:24 AM


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