By Hermoine Macura-Noble
Special to The Times Kuwait

A.R. Rahman and his extraordinary all-female orchestra took to Expo 2020’s Jubilee Park stage today to bring Expo 2020’s Space Week to a resounding finale.

The orchestra, comprising 50 women and 23 nationalities, has been coached over the course of several months by Oscar-winning composer A. R. Rahman. Saturday’s hour-long concert concludes Space Week, the second of Expo’s 10 planned Theme Weeks, with the orchestra performing the theme tunes of well-known sci-fi movies, including Star Wars and ET, as well as a brand new composition by Rahman himself.

Paying tribute to space explorers, the evening was profoundly moving and poetic, with the power of the music augmented through ethereal lighting and 3D space effects, with attention to detail extending to the shimmering ink blue and jewel-hued costumes of the performers.

Expo 2020 Dubai has an amazing calendar of events lined up that celebrate classical music and opera over the next several months.

As part of a packed programme of cultural celebrations to mark the European Union’s Honour Day at Expo 2020 Dubai, three young artists from the Dutch National Opera performed across the Expo site over the weekend.

Under the title Opera Corner, the series is an initiative of OperaVision, the EU’s freeview opera streaming platform that brings new live performances from across Europe to audiences online every week. These streams regularly garner more than 17 million viewers.

The Dutch National Opera is one of the most prestigious in Europe, attracting young artists from all over the world to train in its studio. The performers at Expo 2020 included singers and musicians from France, Poland and the Republic of Korea.

Tickets for Expo 2020 Dubai’s Al Wasl Opera, a cultural milestone that celebrates thousands of years of UAE history, also went on sale as well. Running from December 16th for three days, the performance features more than 100 artists and musicians, celebrating Expo 2020’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

Composed by Mohammed Fairouz, directed by Sir David Pountney and conducted by Justin Brown – Al Wasl translates as ‘the connection’ in English, and is the old name for Dubai. The connection here implies international cooperation, with Al Wasl Opera showing how we must work together to channel Sustainability, one of Expo’s three subthemes.

“Celebrating Expo 2020’s vision of collaboration, Al Wasl Opera brings together many people from a variety of artistic backgrounds in order to create one art form – and there’s nothing more universal than opera and theatre. If people can laugh and cry together, then anything is possible between them,” said Mohammed Fairouz, Composer, Al Wasl Opera.

Al Wasl Opera will be presented in English, with a runtime of 120 minutes, including one intermission. “The story of Al Wasl begins in the desert, and we created a rather original way of depicting this desert in a metaphorical way. In the middle act, we are in the present, where there is a strong reference to the creation of the Burj Khalifa, and we move on into the future in the final act, where we are in pure fantasyland about what the future may or may not look like, depending on whether we make a commitment to a sustainable tomorrow,” concluded Sir David Pountney, Director, Al Wasl Opera.

By Hermoine Macura-Noble
The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.

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