Omar: Collaboration in Conversation | Spoleto at Home

Duration: Approximately 1 hour



Composer and Librettist Rhiannon Giddens
Co-composer Michael Abels
Conductor John Kennedy
Tenor Jamez McCorkle

A voice forgotten no more

One of the most anticipated events of Spoleto’s 2020 season was the world premiere of Omar, a new opera commission from Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens and co-composed by Michael Abels. Based on the 1831 autobiography of Muslim African scholar Omar Ibn Said, the opera traces his spiritual journey from his home in Western Africa through his capture and enslavement in the Carolinas.

While the opera will now premiere during the 2021 Festival, this is your chance for an exclusive look behind the scenes. In this digital conversation, acclaimed tenor Jamez McCorkle—who Festival audiences may remember as Lensky in Eugene Onegin (2017)—will discuss the central role of Omar Ibn Said with the opera’s artistic leaders. Hear how this project came together and listen to the composers speak about—and demonstrate—some of the opera’s musical themes. This meeting marks the first time McCorkle has met with Giddens, Abels, and Kennedy as a group.

Viewing link will remain available through June 7. 


  • Omar Ibn Said Jamez McCorkle


Generous support provided by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation; Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art; Ford Foundation; Deborah Kennedy Kennard and William E. Kennard; OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust; Post and Courier Foundation; Leslie K. Williams and James A. Attwood, Jr.; Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. DeScherer; and Ms. Susan L. Baker and Mr. Michael R. Lynch. Omar is co-commissioned and co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA and Carolina Performing Arts at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carolina Performing Arts’ participation in this project is made possible through the support of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. Opera programming is endowed by the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation.