Shubbak 2015: First Events on Sale, Including Opera Based on ‘Cities of Salt’

Shubbak — London’s “window” on contemporary Arab culture — has revealed part of its 2015 lineup, which includes four scenes from a new opera based on Abdelrahman Munif’s seminal novel:

shubbakThe opera is by Syrian composer Zaid Jabri. According to Shubbak organizers:

The year is 1932. Oil has been discovered and the men and women of one small oasis are caught in the whirlwind of forces embodied by the oil industry and the local oligarchy. Against the backdrop of conflicting interests and different cultures, they must stake their claim on humanity: a new epoch is being born. Working in collaboration with award-winning writers Yvette Christiansë and Rosalind Morris, Jabri skilfully sets a daring and poetic libretto to music that draws on both Arab and European musical traditions, bringing this modern tale to life in all its poignancy and violence. This concert performance, performed by Southbank Sinfonia with seven soloists and chorus, features scenes from each of the opera’s three acts.

Other announced events include the Palestinian/Belgian dance collaboration Badke and Radhouane El Meddeb’s production When The Arabs Used To Dance.

This will be the third Shubbak, following festivals in 2011 and 2013. It’s set to take place between July 11-25.

In a news release, festival director Sue Davies said that this year’s Shubbak will build on past success. “In 2013, we grew an audience of 55,000 visitors from London and the Arab world, showcased 52 events and hosted artists from 16 Arab countries. There is a great appetite in
London for stimulating and contemporary cultural work from the Arab region and we want to see an even greater number of people enjoying our next festival in 2015.”