Presented by: Wells Fargo

Venue: College of Charleston Sottile Theatre

Duration: Approximately 2 hours, 45 minutes


World Premiere


Music by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels
Conducted by John Kennedy
Directed by Kaneza Schaal

Sons. Teachers. Farmers. Mothers. Of the millions of lives forever altered or lost by forced ocean crossings, how many of their stories are known? 

This world premiere opera from Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels narrates Omar Ibn Said’s 1831 autobiography, beginning long before the 37-year-old West African scholar was made to board a ship bound for Charleston, South Carolina—the site of his enslavement and sale. And though his memoir ends some 30 years before he was laid to rest, still enslaved, this record of his life and Muslim faith reveals a refusal to be defined or erased by his captors. It’s a seminal work of strength, resistance, and religious conviction—a work underscoring the indelible power of the written word. 

Sung in English with English supertitles.

Please note: There is a 6-ticket limit per purchase for Omar.

Please note that any bag may be subject to search upon entry.

Audience members will be required to wear masks at all indoor Spoleto Festival USA performances. More information »


Related events:

  • Omar Jamez McCorkle
  • Julie Laquita Mitchell
  • Master Johnson/Master Owen Malcolm MacKenzie
  • Omar's Mother Cheryse McLeod Lewis
  • Katie Ellen/The Caller Catherine Anne Daniel
  • Auctioneer/Master Taylor Adam Klein
  • Little Daughter Rebecca Jo Loeb
  • Omar's Brother/Man to be sold Michael Redding

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. Additional co-commissioners include LA Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.   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; Robyn and Tony Coles/TRATE Productions; Deborah Kennedy Kennard and William E. Kennard; OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation; The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust; Post and Courier Foundation; Leslie K. Williams and James A. Attwood, Jr.; Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. DeScherer; Ms. Susan L. Baker and Mr. Michael R. Lynch; and Jan Serr and John Shannon.     Opera programming is endowed by the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation.   From A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said translated with an introduction by Ala Alryyes. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2011 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.