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New production of Verdi’s Rigoletto to celebrate two anniversaries in Muscat

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The main attraction in 2020 in Muscat, Oman, will be a new production of Rigoletto by G. Verdi with the direction of Franco Zeffirelli to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the reign of the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and the decennial of the seasons of the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM).

The news was revealed at a press conference held in the residence of Maestro Zeffirelli in Rome, co-participant S.E. Rawya Saud Al Busaidi, Minister of Higher Education of Oman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Opera House Muscat.

The production and exhibition will be in collaboration with the Arena di Verona Foundation for the sets, Fondazione Teatro dell’Opera di Roma for costumes, and in partnership with the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation. The National Opera Theater of Lithuania and the Croatian National Theater of Zagreb are members of the project as co-producers.

In the opening speech addressed to the press also in the presence of Maestro Zeffirelli, H.E. Dr. Rawya Albusaidi said: “In November of 2020, the Sultanate of Oman will celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who acceded to the throne in 1970, ushering in a period of remarkable progress in all sectors of Oman’s economy and society, known in-country as The Renaissance.”

On the same date, Oman will also mark the tenth season of the Royal Opera House Muscat with the performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, in a new production commissioned by Maestro Franco Zeffirelli. This will bring the Royal Opera House Muscat’s Inaugural and Tenth Anniversary productions full circle.

One of the great cultural achievements in Oman’s modern Renaissance was the establishment of the Royal Opera House Muscat in 2011 by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who’s stated purpose was for the cultural advancement of the nation and to encourage world peace and international harmony through cultural exchange in the universal language of the performing arts.

The Minister, after expressing her satisfaction for the successful outcome of the artistic performances of the numerous Italian Lyrical-Symphonic Foundations that have performed so far in Muscat, focused in particular on what it has meant in recent years for the Royal Opera House, a cultural institution that has earned a leading role in the international arena as a promoter of increasingly important and prestigious collaborations and initiatives.

“It is an institutional reality with a strong iconic value, a symbol of cultural identity, a multidisciplinary activity that highlights an extraordinary desire to open up to the world and be a cultural ferment of union and peace among peoples thanks to the universal language of music, considered the wide spectrum of genres that distinguishes the programming producing the Rigoletto of Maestro Zeffirelli in the most important year of the history of Oman, I am sure it will trigger further broad consequences in terms of international cultural tourism,” said the Minister.

“It is a perspective that, considering also the charm so strong that the country already exerts on contemporary travelers, pushes us to make it more and more a cultural destination of excellence and an oasis of culture and meeting in the Middle East.”

This new production of Rigoletto represents the fruits of a work carried out by Master Zeffirelli over many years. A project started and then stopped; taken recently, to arrive today to a definitive fulfillment thanks to the happy intuition of the Royal Opera House Muscatche has glimpsed in the project the potential of being able to unite, in a single cultural embrace, in the name of Franco Zeffirelli, theaters, cultures, and traditions very different between them.

Franco Zeffirelli and the Royal Opera House Muscat are two realities united by a close relationship. A link born on the occasion of the Turandot that inaugurated the theater of the Omani capital in October 2011 and assisted on that occasion by the same team of collaborators who will be engaged under his guidance in the next Rigoletto: the Assistant Director Stefano Trespidi, Assistant Set Designer Carlo Centolavigna, and Costume Designer Maurizio Millenotti.

It will be a Rigoletto in which the personalities and interactions between the different characters will be focused and deeply explored in a scenographic frame that encloses and represents the beauty in opera as the point of arrival of an artistic journey of more than half a century of the living Italian artist best known and represented in the world.

Over the past four years, the most important seasons have been ascribed to Umberto Fanni, both for opera productions with the major Italian and European theaters, for world known singers and directors. And it is also thanks to his direction the great efforts made to activate the process of transformation of the Royal Opera House Muscat, from the host theater to a real production theater, starting a path made of own productions and co-productions with the most important theaters and institutions cultural heritage of the world.

An artist who, in its own right, belongs to the world of art and culture tout-court. Among the very few who can really embody and help strengthen the creation of cultural bridges of which the Royal Opera House Muscat has been the architect since its birth. “It had always been the Maestro Zeffirelli dream in the drawer,” revealed Pippo Corsi Zeffirelli, Vice President of the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation, “Rigoletto is a work whose potential has always intrigued the Maestro and to which, in some moments of his career, in a distant past, he had approached without ever bringing the project to the end.”

“Then a year ago, he started together with his historic assistant director Stefano Trespidi, to concentrate on Rigoletto for Oman. We have collected, and we are still gathering a lot of material around this title. Ideas, sketches, notes and precise work plans. From this work there emerges a directorial picture completely in line and homogeneous, in which the Master has approached on several occasions offering a very coherent reading with the deep inner contradictions of the protagonist.”

Listed as one of the most beautiful theaters in the world, the Royal Opera House Muscat is a complex of extraordinary charm due to the successful combination of Omani style and architectural sign, an institution that represents the fruits of a strongly enlightened vision of the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.

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