Venue: Sottile Theatre at College of Charleston

Duration: Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes


Music by Layale Chaker
Libretto by Lisa Schlesinger
Direction and Dramaturgy by Omar Abi Azar and Maya Zbib
Conducted by Kamna Gupta
Scene Design by Joelle Aoun
Costume Design by Sarah Leterrier
Lighting Design by James F. Ingalls

Loosely based on the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Ruinous Gods explores the psychological toll experienced by displaced refugee children. This vital world premiere opera follows a desperate mother’s attempts to revive her 12-year- old daughter who has fallen into a non-responsive sleep triggered by trauma. The child’s journey through an underworld-inspired dreamscape forms the backdrop for a groundbreaking score that weaves Arabic maqam and Western classical music traditions with diverse Middle Eastern influences, jazz, and improvisation. At turns painful, humorous, and hopeful, Ruinous Gods urges crucial conversations about how governments and societies treat migrant families.

This performance contains mature content and themes. This performance uses haze.

Attendance at all events is subject to the Festival security policy.

You may also like:
Conversations With, May 25
Layale Chaker + Sarafand, May 27–28


  • Blue Dove/Dr. Undertow Leroy Davis
  • Hannah Taylor-Alexis Dupont
  • H'ala Teryn Kuzma
  • Swift / Dr. Overcast Sharmay Musacchio
  • Sophia Sarah Shafer
  • Crow Karim Sulayman

Major lead support provided by Doris Duke Foundation. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The commissioning of Layale Chaker for Ruinous Gods received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers program supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Opera programming is endowed by the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation. Co-produced and co-commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA, Opera Wuppertal, and Nederlandse Reisopera.   The librettist and composer are grateful to the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies; the Office of the Vice President and the Provost for Research; and the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa for their support of this work.