The Spoleto Festival USA has announced its 2022 season featuring three New Operas.
The company will world premiere “Omar” by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels. Kaneza Schaal will direct the opera with John Kennedy conducting. The cast will include Jamez McCorkle in the title role, Cheryse McLeod Lewis as Omar’s mother, and Laquita Mitchell as Julie.
Opening in Senegal, the opera’s narrative traces Omar Ibn Said’s spiritual journey from his life in West Africa to his enslavement in the Carolinas. A Muslim African scholar, Said was 37 years old when he was captured in Futa Toro and brought to Charleston. His story is one of strength, resistance, and religious conviction, a story of truth and of faith.
Karim Sulayman’s “Unholy War” will be directed by Kevin Newbury with music direction by Julie Andrijeski. The piece showcases selections from the early baroque period which are stitched together to reveal a compelling story of the Crusades. The narrative shifts, however, as the works—originally written through a European lens by composers including Monteverdi, Salamone Rossi, Handel, d’India, and Giulio and Francesca Caccini—are sung from a contemporary Arab American perspective, examining the Western opera canon’s relationship to the Middle East.
The final opera of the season will be Puccini’s “La bohème” in a new production by Yuval Sharon. Vimbayi Kaziboni conducts the production with Matthew White, Lauren Michelle, Troy Cook, and Brandie Sutton. The new production will see Puccini’s “La bohème” in reverse order—starting with Act IV and ending with Act I—extracting hope from tragedy, life from death, and love from loneliness.