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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Inaugural Amman Opera Festival a lavish success

The event marks Jordan's arrival to the regional opera scene among established countries such as Egypt, Syria, Oman and the UAE

More than 150 performers brought Verdi’s La Traviata to life at the Amman Opera Festival. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival
More than 150 performers brought Verdi’s La Traviata to life at the Amman Opera Festival. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival

The Amman Opera Festival concluded its inaugural edition last night with the finale of two performances of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Held at the historic Roman Amphitheatre in the Jordanian capital, a cast of more than 150 performers brought to life one of the opera canon’s most beloved compositions.

Led by Jordanian soprano Zeina Barhoum, the multicultural cast hailed from a dozen nations with members from the Sichuan Philharmonic Orchestra and Georgia’s Batumi Opera House Choir to Italy’s La Scala and home-grown musicians.

Jordanian news agency Petra reported that festival patron Princess Muna Al Hussein attended the opening night on Wednesday.

The princess praised Barhoum, who helped to organise the festival in addition to undertaking the lead role of Violetta alongside Jordanian tenor Ady Naber as Gastone.

The Amman Opera Festival launched its inaugural edition with a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival
The Amman Opera Festival launched its inaugural edition with a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival

“Zeina Barhoum has helped to put Jordan on the map with all her hard work that she does both here and around the world,” she said.

“It has always been delightful to work with her. I have had the pleasure of listening to Zeina at various concerts and also enjoyed her voice on CDs

very much.

“I consider her a great ambassador of music for Jordan.”

Jordan’s tourism minister Lina Annab hailed the event as a cultural milestone.

“This is an exceptional event,” she told The Jordan Times, stating it would “definitely help promote Jordan as a venue for more cultural events, not only in the field of opera”.

Speaking from the festival red carpet, Barhoum described the event as Jordan’s arrival onto the regional opera scene.

“We are late when it comes to putting on events like [this] in comparison to other Arabic countries such as Egypt and Syria first, and then more recently Oman and Qatar.”

Hailed as one of the region’s most promising sopranos, Barhoum graduated from the American University of Sharjah before studying vocalism

under Italian baritone Walter Alberti. She has also

performed with the Prague Youth Symphony Orchestra and on the international stage in London, Paris and Dubai.

Barhoum hopes the Amman Opera Festival, which is to become an annual event, will provide the catalyst for Jordan to join the UAE, Oman and Kuwait in building its own dedicated venue.

The Amman Opera Festival launched its inaugural edition with a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival
The Amman Opera Festival launched its inaugural edition with a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. Courtesy Amman Opera Festival

“Throughout my career, I have been blessed to work with people from around the globe,” she says.

“Through my music and art, I have realised the importance of cross-cultural connections and I have seen first-hand how music provides an important bridge that unites cultures from all over the world. Through the use of music, we speak one language, a language we can all understand without interpreters.”