A Legendary Season at Royal Opera House Muscat

Oman Magazine attends the press briefing at the Royal Opera House Muscat to discover the new 2017-2018 Season, beginning with the operas. The new title, ROHM 2017-2018: A Legendary Season, encapsulates the fabulous essence of our new Season.


ROHM’s new Season features some of the greatest opera singers in the world who will give dazzling performances in gala concerts, as well as in five famous operas. The roster of Artists that we are presenting in the new Season is an incredible concentration of world-famous stars that may be for the first time ever on the same stage in any given season. In a special tribute to the tenor voice, ROHM will host such tenors as Roberto Alagna, Jose Cura, Gregory Kunde, Marcelo Alvarez and Fabio Armiliato who will perform in a crossover repertoire with great originality and flamboyant histrionism. ROHM’s stage will also host internationally acclaimed women stars, such as Olga Peretyatko, Aleksandra Kurzak, Rosa Feola, Kristin Lewis, Anita Rachvelishvili and many others. This will be the Season of big voices, a unique and unforgettable season.

ROHM’s 2017-18 operas include three great romantic and tragic works that take us into the deeper realms of the human spirit  – Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci (Clowns); and two delightful operas that give us incredible joy Gioachino Rossini’s L’Occasione fa il Ladro (Opportunity Makes a Thief) and Vincenzo Bellini’s  La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker). The common thread in combining staging of different Directors is the idea that inspired the choice of these titles and the reason why one can call it Legendary:  We are presenting the best selections of both classic and modern works, which have made history and will represent the future of opera.  The impressive opera, Aida, which on September 14th will inaugurate the 2017-2018 season, will be directed by William Friedkin, who is very well known for his career in cinema

Another famous director, Jean–Pierre Ponnelle will present his historical and memorable L’Occasione fa il Ladro;

and Hugo De Ana brings one of the most beautiful productions of La Sonnambula ever staged. Frédéric Roels presents a new production of Norma; and last, but not least, Franco Zeffirelli, the most famous of all, will come back to ROHM with another astonishing masterwork, Pagliacci which means Clowns. I’m very proud to host Zeffirelli once again, the man whom I think is the most important Director in history of opera; and especially with this production which probably represents the higher expression of his genius. Without revealing much, I can assure you that ROHM will continue to have an important collaboration in the future with Maestro Zeffirelli! For this production of Pagliacci, performed by Opera of Rome, we are also planning an important training project for our Omani employees in ROHM’s Costume and Make up Department to help them develop a specialty in the Arts and Crafts of the opera world.


There is a very special reason for ROHM’s focus on opera singing. And that is because the year 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the greatest singers of all time – the truly legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti. ROHM pays tribute to Pavarotti in a gala concert with four amazing stars who are in demand on the world’s best stages  – Fiorenza Cedolins, Sumi Jo, Marcello Giordani, and Francesco Meli. Some among these four leading opera singers studied and shared personal life experiences with Pavarotti, while others performed with him. And they all share a deep admiration for the great man’s nobility of spirit and his wonderful humanity.

Just like these four stars, we are passionate about Pavarotti and the arias he made legendary, like the well-known “Nessun Dorma”. ROHM’s homage to Pavarotti includes also an amazing Exhibition to be held from 14th December 2017 to 6th January 2018. The Pavarotti Exhibition will feature treasured memorabilia, including some of his iconic costumes.


I am also very proud to announce that one of the operas the Royal Opera House will present this coming season is another international coproduction. This is another very important step as ROHM continues its journey along a transformational road to becoming a theater that creates its own productions in addition to hosting productions from abroad. In partnership with the excellent Opéra de Rouen from France ROHM is producing Vincenzo Bellini’s great belcanto masterpiece, Norma, a lyrical tragedy about a Druid priestess whose ill-fated love for an unfaithful Roman conqueror has powerful consequences.


And now for Ballet…  Swan Lake will be performed in the gorgeous classical style by Astana Opera and the world-class Orchestra of Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa conducted by Giuseppe Acquaviva.

It’s a magnificent, romantic production with beautiful period costumes created by the Academy-Award-winning, Tony-nominated costume designer, Franca Squarciapino and atmospheric sets by the distinguished Italian designer, Ezio Frigerio.

ROHM audiences naturally love classical ballet; and they also appreciate modern ballet. This season ROHM is presenting Cinderella as avant-garde ballet performed by Opera de Lyon.

With brilliant choreography and staging by Maguy Marin, the ballet is set in a doll’s house and the dancers are characterised accordingly. Sergei Prokofiev’s amazing music is played by the PKF- Prague Phiharmonia, an orchestra that is greatly loved by ROHM patrons.

Moreover, we have also a very unusual show, a Concert-Ballet, with the intriguing title, Pas de Deux for Fingers and Toes. Violinist, Vadim Repin, often reputed to be the “best and most perfect violinist” and the Étoile or Star of La Scala, Svetlana Zakharova, bring music and movement together in a supreme expression of beauty.  To top it off, we will have a night of Traditional dances by of one the world’s greatest folkdance companies, – the Russian Igor Moiseyev Ballet which is renowned for technical brilliance and exuberant virtuosity.


Other two of our original proposals are Recital CanTango a World Music performance and A O, Original Vietnamese Show.

The great attractiveness and uniqueness of Recital CanTango is the fusion between the most passionate dance, Tango, and the voice of one of the most important tenors, Fabio Armiliato. The tenor will lead the audience in a plain and touching journey through the history of Tango performing famous Tango songs accompanied by Los Guardiola dancers on music arrangements by Fabrizio Mocata. One of the world’s favourite dances, the stunningly stylish and romantic Argentinian tango, is danced and its story is recited in song.

And for lovers of acrobatic performances and a fabulous blend of genres, A O Show is one of the most frequently staged and acclaimed in the world…..


I am also happy to announce that we are continuing our custom of presenting a popular musical each season – and this time it is none other than Peter Pan in an award-winning new production for people of all ages. It’s action-packed and exciting, with all the beloved characters – flying in the air to original music arrangements by the famous pop singer, Edoardo Bennato.


By now you will have realised that the Season of Legends is as diverse and high quality as our past seasons … It is also, overall, alittle more daring and innovative. Believe it or not, the amazing rock superstar, Cliff Richard is coming to the ROHM! With more than 250 million records sold worldwide over the past five decades, Sir Cliff Richard is one of the all-time popular-music greats.

Roberto Alagna, one of the most celebrated tenors in the world, returns to ROHM – with the internationally acclaimed Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak who also performs on some of the world’s most prestigious stages.

The new Season also features a living jazz legend, Dianne Reeves. She has been hailed by The New York Times as “the most admired jazz diva since Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday”. Dianne Reeves has won no less than five Grammy Awards.

Platinum award-winning singer and songwriter, Ann Hampton Callaway will sing some of Barbara Streisand’s timeless classics such as “Cry me a River” and “The Way We Were”.

Another legendary star is Gilberto Gil, known as “The Soul of Brazil”, a multiple Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, and songwriter known for his intelligently innovative music, deep musicality and quiet charisma.


In addition to the Russian folkdance performance already mentioned, we can look forward to more from fabulous shows from a country with a brilliant history in the performing arts.

In two thrilling concerts, the astoundingly virtuoso Russian violinist, Sergej Krylov will play with the prestigious Russian National Orchestra conducted by the brilliant Pier Carlo Orizio.  You will hear beautiful, breath-taking music by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel’s Bolero.

The tremendously popular, world-famous Alexandrov Red Army Chorus is coming with a full cast of robust male singers. And, as an added attraction, the Red Army dance troupes will bring spectacular acrobatic action to the concert.


A special highlight of the 2017/18 season will be our annual dedication to the king of instruments, the pipe organ. The concert will feature the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the world-renowned British organist, pianist and conductor, Wayne Marshall. One of the most celebrated organists of our time, Mr. Marshall will appear in this concert as organist and conductor, and the programme will include favourite solo-organ works as well as formidable symphonic repertoire performed by ROSO.


We now continue with ROHM’s special programming, starting with those designed for Family and Children. First I want to announce something totally wonderful that children will absolutely love – another interactive opera in which children sing in Arabic, Italian and English and participate in the action with their own handmade props.

Following the huge success of Magic Flute for Children or Defeating the Monsters, ROHM will present The Moth Princess, a touching children’s opera based on Puccini’s great masterpiece, Turandot.

The second important project thought especially for Families is Peter and the Wolf & other Animal Tales, performed by the Orchestra of Opera de Rouen conducted by Fabrizio Maria Carminati. Focused on the interaction between the music and animation, the Concert will explore the animal world with a shadow puppet show by the Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation and the projection of the Oscar-winning animated film, Peter & the Wolf Live on Prokofiev’s score.


The Royal Opera House continues its tremendously popular series of Arab performances with shows such as the amazing Military Music concert. Arab concerts will feature legends of today like Sami Yusuf, named by The Guardian as “the biggest British star in the Middle East”.  Time Magazine called Samu Yusuf “Islam’s Biggest Rockstar”.


Now I would like to outline ROHM’s 2017-18 Education and Outreach program which next year will move a step forward, with new projects and activities especially tailored for families, children, and teachers. ROHM aims at being an authentic place of learning, entertainment and inspiration, helping new generations to experience the beauty and the necessity of performing arts.

The Education & Outreach programme, which you can see in our season booklet in detail, includes the already mentioned family concert Peter and the Wolf and the interactive opera The Moth Princess, as well as on-stage animated presentations dedicated to the secrets of staging and to percussion instruments.

The programme also includes guided tours, lectures, informative talks with visiting artists, exhibitions, competitions, and open house events.


ROHM’s Open House events are held in a casual and welcoming atmosphere amid the inspiring beauty of the building. This year, the four open houses are deeply connected to the performances of the main season informing the audience in an entertaining way with the following events:

  • the Pavarotti Exhibition, to discover the great artist and the simple yet noble man
  • Animal World to explore animal music, to learn how to create sounds and how to build puppets, and to participate in creative workshops led by expert puppeteers and educators
  • a 2-day Tango Class with the wonderful Los Guardiola dancers
  • Clown for a Day to understand the deep connection between theatre and life, to enjoy theatrical make-up and learn about Carnival traditional masks, to create your own music inspired by Pagliacci.


Introduced last season, ROHM’s successful Coffee & Dates with Artists series continues – with conversations with seven stars from ROHM’s Season of Legends.

You will be able to interact personally with amazing artists from a range of shows.

PRE-PERFORMANCE TALKS – The Royal Opera House’s popular Pre-Performance Talks will continue with nine sessions offering lively discussion and illuminating insights into the performance you are about to see.

LUNCH MUSIC – Last but not least, ROHM introduces a new series of pleasant concerts at lunchtime, to enjoy popular operatic arias resounding in the luxurious Galleria and in other unexpected venues. The concerts will feature the artists involved in the productions and will prepare the audience to the operas.