Spoleto Festival Commissions the World Premiere of ‘Ruinous Gods’ for the 2024 Season

By Afton Wooten

The Spoleto Festival has announced its commission of Layale Chaker and Lisa Schlesinger’s new opera “Ruinous Gods” which will make its world premiere at the 2024 festival.

The new full-length chamber opera explores forced migration and “how mass displacement triggers profound psychological trauma amongst its youngest sufferers.” Included are real testimonies from survivors and families of those afflicted by uppgivenhetssyndrom or resignation syndrome.

“Ruinous Gods” follows a mother, Hannah, and her 12-year-old daughter, H’ala who are suffering the trauma from displacement. This opera uses elements from myths and fairy tales and is loosely based on the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter.

Musically the opera includes traditions of Arabic Maqam and Western classical music. “Ruinous Gods” is scored for six soloists, a chorus, and a chamber ensemble of strings, oboe/English horn, bassoon, flute, clarinet, harp, percussion, and piano as well as microtonal keyboard. Casting will be announced at a later date.

The work is co-produced and co-commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA, Opera Wuppertal, and Nederlandse Reisopera.

The opera will be co-directed by Omar Abi Azar and Maya Zbib with Kamna Gupta conducting. “Ruinous Gods” will star Karim Sulayman as Crow, Taylor-Alexis Dupont as Hannah, Teryn Kuzma as H’ala, Leroy Davis as Blue Dove and Dr. Undertow, Sharmay Musacchio as Swift, and Sarah Shafer as Sophia.

***Editorial Note: This Article was originally published in June 2023 but has been updated to include recently revealed casting and creative team announcements.