One of the two world premiere operas at this year’s Festival is Unholy Wars and you are not going to want to miss Grammy Award-winning tenor Karim Sulayman debut this intimate new work. Here is what you should know:

Over the course of 70 minutes, a collection of Baroque music centered around the Middle East and The Crusades is stitched together through song, dance, and intricate animation. Unholy Wars examines the separation of the human race based on creed and color. The poem takes place during the First Crusade of 1096, when Christian armies set out to conquer Jerusalem from the Saracens. It tells of the Christian knight Tancredi who, in love with the Muslim warrior Clorinda, unwittingly kills the object of his affection in a battle because he does not recognize her in her armor and under the veil of night. At the time of its creation, and surely in the minds of its original audiences, this is a powerful story in which love could transcend cultural boundaries, while highlighting war as a dividing force.


A Little More…

“This is a story about the resilience of marginalized people everywhere, and the reclamation of our own stories.” In Unholy Wars, Sulayman, a first generation American from Lebanese parents, uses the operatic stage to ask all of us to imagine what is possible when we recognize and embrace that our histories are intertwined, and our collective survival is mutually dependent. 

“In our post-9/11 world, I’ve been faced with my otherness more than ever before—the recipient of questions or jokes tinged with menace. For centuries, the Middle East has been at the center of immense conflict—all under the pretense of God’s name—and these wars rage on. My aim is to delve into racial inequities that ravage our history and our present moment. Music can create a space without borders; this is an opportunity to create a sense of belonging.” 


About the Creative Team

Unholy Wars is conceived and performed by Grammy Award-winning tenor Karim Sulayman. Sulayman has garnered international attention as a sophisticated and versatile artist, consistently praised for his sensitive and intelligent musicianship, riveting stage presence, and beautiful voice.

Accompanying Sulayman is an ensemble of Baroque music specialists, who will also perform original interstitial compositions. The multidisciplinary performance, directed by Up Until Now Collective’s Kevin Newbury, incorporates choreography as well as video animation and projections by Syrian visual artist Kevork Mourad


Additional Creative Team Members involved

Music direction, Julie Andrijeski

Choreography, Ebony Williams

Original Music, Mary Kouyoumdjian

Lighting design, Jennifer Fok

Costume design, David Woolard


Connect on Social

Find Karim Sulayman on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Find Kevin Newbury on Instagram.

Find Julie Andrijeski on Instagram and Facebook.


Performance Details

Unholy Wars will take the stage at Dock Street Theatre beginning Sunday, May 29, and will run until Monday, June 6. 

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