Omar, A World Premiere Opera in 2020

NOTE: This 2020 Festival has been cancelled. The world premiere of Omar will be postponed until the 2021 Festival. For more information, click here.

Original content:

A New Opera by Grammy Award-Winner Rhiannon Giddens Taps into a Largely Untold Story of Charleston and the American South

On the heels of a successful 2019 season, Spoleto Festival USA announces its commission of a new full-length opera by MacArthur Fellow and Grammy Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens, based on the life and autobiography of Omar Ibn Said—an enslaved Muslim-African man who was brought to Charleston in 1807.

The opera, Omar, will have its world premiere during the 2020 Festival (May 22 – June 7), where it will reopen the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre following its renovation.

Stay up-to-date with all details regarding this production by signing up to receive our eNewsletters.

Email Signup

Composed by Rhiannon Giddens
Co-composed by Michael Abels
Libretto by Rhiannon Giddens
Conducted by John Kennedy
Directed by Charlotte Brathwaite
Choreographed by Ni’Ja Whitson
Featuring Jamez McCorkle as Omar Ibn Said and Daniel Okulitch as the Master

Read more about the opera in:

The Post and Courier
The New York Times

Learn about the process in our blog series, “Making an Opera:”

Who was Omar Ibn Said?
Meet the Composer, Rhiannon Giddens
Meet the Co-Composer, Michael Abels
Meet a Producer, Nicole Taney

Co-commissioned and co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This opera was commissioned with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, and OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. A forthcoming opera development workshop is made possible through the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Co-commissioner/co-producer Carolina Performing Arts’ participation in this project is made possible through the support of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts is partnering on far-reaching education and outreach endeavors in order to connect Spoleto and this opera with Charleston schools and community organizations. A role created within the Festival’s full-time staff will ensure robust programming takes place in the region throughout the 2019 – 2020 school year. The material created by these education and outreach endeavors will subsequently be used by Carolina Performing Arts.