Presented by Boston Lyric Opera, co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Music by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels
Libretto by Rhianon Giddens
Conducted by Michael Ellis Ingram
Directed by Kaneza Schaal
Inspired by Dr. Ala Alryye’s translation of Mar ibn Said’s autobiography in his book, A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn
Published by and presented with permission of Subito Music Corporation
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
May 5 – 7, 2023
WCRB recorded a performance of BLO’s production for an episode of WCRB in Concert that will air in fall 2023. Sign up for recording broadcast updates here.
Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood
BOSTON, Mass. —
This past Saturday night, I was witness to a conjuring. Omar, a new opera co-created by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, is not just in conversation with history. It brings the past to life by filling in the gaps of archival memory and giving voice to a narrative that has otherwise slipped through the cracks of history.
Until now, the story of Omar ibn Said has largely been contained to academic circles, where it holds a critical place as the only known surviving account of United States slavery to have been written in Arabic. From this account, we know that Omar was an accomplished and devout Islamic scholar in present-day Senegal, when, at 37 years of age, in 1807, he was captured, transported to Charleston, South Carolina, and sold into slavery. Continue reading