Media Release

Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 Programme of International Commissions Starts with Carmen at Royal Opera House, London

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 7 February 2018): Abu Dhabi Festival’s programme of international commissions and events commenced on 6 February at the Royal Opera House, London with Barrie Kosky’s new production of George Bizet’s much-loved opera, Carmen. Supported by Abu Dhabi Festival, the sold out opening night performance was attended by H.E. Sulaiman Almazroui, Ambassador of UAE to UK, H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival and Alex Beard CBE, CEO of the Royal Opera House.  Audiences at the Royal Opera House will have the opportunity to enjoy this intense and spectacular new production over 12 performances from 6 February to 16 March 2018, with a live international performance on 561 screens in 28 countries taking place on 6 March.


H.E. Sulaiman Almazroui, Ambassador of UAE to UK, said: “Very pleased to see Abu Dhabi Festival collaborating with the Royal Opera house in London. Culture is one of the UAE paramount priorities.”


Through collaborations with international strategic cultural partners and other leading global cultural organisations, Abu Dhabi Festival enables the creation of cultural initiatives that bring countries together and enables societies to understand each other better. Expanding upon the international presence seen in past years, this year’s line-up will include eighteen spectacular performances across the US, UK, Spain, Paris, KSA, and Egypt.


H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival said: “We have a deeply held belief in the power of cultural expression to nurture understanding and draw nations closer. With the rapid growth of the UAE as a global destination for the arts, bridges of international cooperation are strengthened through collaborative, cross-cultural endeavours.


Extending efforts in this realm of cultural diplomacy, Abu Dhabi Festival engages with its network of strategic partners to cultivate and amplify the excellence of the world’s most celebrated composers and artistic directors. Barrie Kosky’s striking production of Carmen at the Royal Opera House in London is a significant start to the Abu Dhabi Festival’s 2018 international programme. These collaborations contribute to Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision, asserting the capital as among the greatest supporters of global creative expression.


Nurturing culture and creativity beyond the UAE means the Abu Dhabi Festival continues to serve as a gateway for artistic expression; from world-class performances that uphold the culture of the Arab World, to commissions that truly encapsulate the vanguard of international creativity – each year we incubate new works of global significance to diverse audiences. Our collaboration with the Royal Opera House further strengthens Abu Dhabi’s position as a capital of cultural enlightenment on the world map.”


As one of the most famous operas in the entire art form, Carmen was conceptualised by French composer Georges Bizet – and is considered to be his best work. Featuring numbers such as the Habanera and the Toreador Song, Carmen is a story of jealousy, love and tragedy – a heady combination of passion and violence. Giving a new voice to the fascinating central character, this ever-popular opera is given a fresh point of view under the direction of Barrie Kosky and conducted by Jakub Hrůša as the first performance of Abu Dhabi Festival 2018’s International Commissions. Carmen is the Royal Opera House’s first co-production with a cultural organisation from the Arab world.


Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said: “We are thrilled to be opening this year’s Abu Dhabi Festival with Barrie Kosky’s vibrant production of Carmen.


“The Royal Opera House is open to the world, and the Abu Dhabi Festival allows us to connect with global arts organisations to celebrate global creativity and artistry. We are enormously grateful to the Abu Dhabi Festival for their continuing support and look forward to further collaboration in the future.”


The Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 will also be presenting an international tribute to legendary icon Is’haq Al Mawsili on 4 November 2018, exploring and instigating cross-cultural dialogue through the shared roots of the oud and the guitar. From Ashur to Seville: Naseer Shamma & The Beit Al Oud Orchestra, in partnership with Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Spain, will bring together the prestigious alumni of Beit Al Oud from Algeria, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, to premiere seven new compositions by the Iraqi-Oud master and United Nations Messenger for Peace.


Critically acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Tarek Yamani returns to Abu Dhabi Festival with the Tarek Yamani 2018 Tour, featuring an outstanding ensemble on a spellbinding tour across US, Paris, KSA and Egypt. The tour will present Yamani’s Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 commission, ‘Peninsular: Portraits in Khaleeji Rhythms and Jazz’ to global audiences, exploring the correlation between jazz and Khaleeji traditions through complex rhythms and harmonies. Originally commissioned for the Abu Dhabi Festival Composers’ Platform, the concert is inspired by traditional Middle-Eastern rhythms including the ‘Sittati’ and ‘Ayyala’ (from the UAE) as well as ‘Ardha Janubiya’ (from Saudi Arabia). The tour will kick off on 15 March with the first performance in Riyadh, KSA, at the first fusion festival. On 16 March, Yamani will take the tour to Egypt’s only international multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival, the D-CAF or the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, performing a set of original compositions across multiple sites in Downtown Cairo.


Alongside the international concerts, the tour will also feature the European release of the ‘Peninsular’ album with an eclectic performance at the famed New Morning Club in Paris on 19 March. In April or May, he will also present an adaptation at the City College of New York’s Aaron Davis Hall, the premiere performing arts center in Harlem. The tour will finally conclude with a performance with ADMAF’s international strategic partner and NYC’s leading and most versatile Jazz venue, the Jazz at Lincoln Center on 11 June.


The Abu Dhabi Festival is presented and organised by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. ADMAF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision.