‘Woman at Point Zero’ Opera Nominated for Fedora Prize

The Shubbak Festival has announced that Woman at Point Zero — a new opera based on Nawal El Saadawi’s 1975 novel, has been nominated for the Fedora Prize, which celebrates innovation in opera:

Of the ten nominated operas, four will advance to the finals, set to be announced this spring.

Festival organizers say they’re hoping to bring the opera to Shubbak in 2021. They write:

Woman at Point Zero is a new opera based on the classic 1975 novel by the Egyptian writer Nawal El Sadaawi. El Sadaawi describes her meeting with Firdaus, a woman on death row in Cairo, who shares her life story the night before her execution…

Burrowing into the hidden places where fear, violence and love are tangled together, Firdaus describes how she is trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse relationships, until the moment she commits a bloody crime in self-defense.

From this universal story of exploitation, erasure and the search for freedom, composer Bushra El-Turk, director Laila Soliman, writer Stacy Hardy and filmmaker Aida Elkashef create a new multimedia production that weaves together diverse creative visions and challenges conventions, to reanimate opera as a powerful voice for a new wave feminism without borders.

Intertwining lyrical poetry and genre-defying music with compelling documentary testimonies from contemporary women who committed similar acts, it presents a chorus of women’s voices — once deemed insolent, damaged, and shameful, now in the process of reclaiming and telling their own stories with wry humor, tender intimacy, and fierce freedom.

Composer BUSHRA EL-TURK, author STACY HARDY, director LAILA SOLIMAN and filmmaker AIDA ELKASHEF turn this 1975 novel into a multimedia production that collages documentary film and fiction, poetry and narrative, Western and non-Western musical traditions. Together, they form an interdisciplinary creative team of four powerful women from the Global South. They are advocates of a new politics of solidarity, wanting to decolonise and democratise opera and engage key concepts in feminist thought, namely “sisterhood,” “experience,” “community”. Their work aims to make visible what was formerly and forcefully hidden: trauma, violence, liberation, strength, and joy.

Ten operas have been nominated for this stage of the prize. Among the others are the Luxembourgian Flux, the Italian Macbeth by G. Verdi – Chapter 1, and the UK’s Naciketa. The public is invited to vote at the Fedora Prize website through Friday, February 28. In parallel, the eight-person jury will nominate projects which will have the opportunity to run crowdfunding campaigns in spring 2020 on the Fedora website.

The €150,000 prize, set to be awarded in June, goes toward the commission and production of the winning opera.

The English translation of Woman at Point Zerofirst published in 1983, was done by Sherif Hatata.