A romance for the ages thrills opera lovers in Riyadh

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The Opera Lebanon production of ‘Antar and Abla’ thrilled music lovers on Friday and Saturday at the Princess Noura University in Riyadh.
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The Opera Lebanon orchestra in full flow at the Princess Noura University in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
Updated 25 February 2018
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A romance for the ages thrills opera lovers in Riyadh

RIYADH: Opera came to Saudi Arabia at the weekend with performances of a classic Arabian love story in front of an enraptured audience in Riyadh.
The Opera Lebanon production of “Antar and Abla” thrilled a stadium full of music lovers on Friday and Saturday at the Princess Noura University.
“It was a wonderful initiative that portrayed Arabic culture and heritage through a musical interpretation, for the whole family to enjoy,” said Muna AbuSulayman, who saw the show on Friday.
And if the audience loved the performers, the performers were equally delighted with the audience. “You could feel the their energy. It was magnificent,” the Lebanese soprano Lara Jokhadar, who played Abla, told Arab News after the show.
The singer who played Antar, Wadih Abi Raad, also from Lebanon, told Arab News: “The audience were very responsive to the opera, even, if we may say, thirsty for the opera and this kind of classy entertainment.
“I love it and loved the audience’s honest response to our performance. They felt our performance wholeheartedly and we felt their earnest response. It’s a pleasure and an honor to perform for educated people, like the Saudi people, and they were earnest in their feelings. I am happy and joyful. I would do it again with pleasure, for the lovely Saudi people.”
The opera retells the legendary story of a sixth-century Arab warrior and poet, Antar, and his forbidden but undying love for his beautiful cousin, Abla. Composed by Maroun Al-Rahi, Antoine Maalouf and Nayer Nagui, it had its premiere in Beirut in July 2016, and has also been performed in Bahrain.
‘The General Entertainment Authority encouraged us to do an Arabic opera rather than an international one,” said Amira Al-Taweel, chief executive of the sponsors, TIME Entertainment.
“The story stems from our heritage and culture. I very much enjoyed it as did the audience. After the show, I asked the team of performers for their honest opinion of how it went, and they answered that this was the best audience they have performed in front of until now.
“We are so happy and proud!”


Saudi Minister of State Prince Mansour attends Maldives presidential inauguration

Minister of State Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdul Aziz, center, attends the inauguration of Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. (SPA)
Updated 26 min 54 sec ago
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Saudi Minister of State Prince Mansour attends Maldives presidential inauguration

  • Prince Mansour, who is an adviser to the king, led the Saudi delegation to the inauguration ceremony

On behalf of King Salman, Saudi Minister of State Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdul Aziz attended the inauguration on Saturday of new Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the capital Male.

Prince Mansour, who is a member of the Council of Ministers, conveyed to Solih the greetings of the king and crown prince, and conveyed their wishes to the people of the Maldives for their country’s progress and prosperity.

Prince Mansour, who is an adviser to the king, led the Saudi delegation to the inauguration ceremony. 

The delegation included Ahmed Al-Khatib, adviser in the General Secretariat of the Cabinet, and the Saudi ambassador to the Maldives, Badr bin Ali Al-Kihail.

Solih was inaugurated after the opposition united to defeat Abdulla Yameen in elections that took place in September.

Solih was sworn in at a special session of Parliament held at the National Football Stadium in Male. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the attendees.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago known for its luxury resorts, became a multiparty democracy in 2008.