Media Release

Abu Dhabi Festival 2020 Commences International Programme with Historic Co-Production of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at the Metropolitan Opera

Abu Dhabi Festival 2020 Commences International Programme with Historic Co-Production of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at the Metropolitan Opera


  • Thrilling interpretation of eerie nautical legend returns to the Met Opera after 20 years in first-ever co-production with an Arab organisation, wowing audiences until 27 March 2020
  • Festival’s extensive international performances to also include historic celebration of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, a creative collaboration with the Filasteen Young Musicians Orchestra, a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu and Palestinian singer and musician Omar Kamal’s world tour


Abu Dhabi, UAE: 3rd March 2020: With a commitment to bringing new works to audiences across the world, Abu Dhabi Festival commenced its programme of international commissions on 2 March 2020 with a spellbinding modern vision of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ at the Metropolitan Opera, USA, supported by Mubadala Investment Company. Richard Wagner’s evocative opera was given new life by celebrated filmmaker and screenwriter Francois Girard as he directed a brilliant cast led by Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin as the Dutchman, with German soprano Anja Kampe making her much-anticipated Met debut as female lead, Senta. Audiences can witness the masterpiece until 27 March 2020.


Co-produced by the Abu Dhabi Festival, Metropolitan Opera, Dutch National Opera and Quebec Opera, the multi-media performance was attended by H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, H.E. Lana Z. Nusseibeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H.E. Abdalla Shaheen, Consul General of the UAE in New York, and Mr. Brian Lott, Chief Communications Officer, Mubadala Investment Company.


A core piece of The Metropolitan Opera’s repertory, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ is based on a folktale that became a popular inspiration for many 18th- and 19th-century writers, poets and artists — perfect for those with a taste for Verdi or Puccini. Francois Girard’s fresh approach and stunning visual imagery turned the Met stage into a rich, layered tableau reminiscent of a vast oil painting, with the drama unfolding musically and poetically to take audiences on a unique journey of love, redemption and sacrifice. The old folktale was also given a new twist with stunning state-of-the-art visual projections and motion‐capture technology accompanied by a thrilling score, diverse musical themes, monologues, duets and choruses conducted by maestro Valery Gergiev.




H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival said: “There are few opera houses in the world that have contributed as much to their craft as the Metropolitan Opera has. There is also no better way to strengthen the arts and foster creative exchange between cultures than through collaboration — and the Abu Dhabi Festival is proud to join with the Met in its first-ever partnership with an Arab institution, along with the Dutch National Opera and Opéra de Québec.”


“As the United Arab Emirates experiences a cultural renaissance, the opportunities for dialogue and exchange only grow, and the Abu Dhabi Festival has become a vital platform for the cultural diplomacy that is building bridges between nations and between peoples. The partnership that has made this production possible is just one of those bridges.”


H.E. Lana Z. Nusseibeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said: “The UAE deeply believes in the power of cultural diplomacy. The exchange of art and ideas is as important to maintaining bonds between countries as the conversations between diplomats. At the UN, I’ve seen first-hand how the celebration of diverse cultures can help us to truly understand one another. I was thrilled to attend the opening of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ here in New York with a number of my UN colleagues, and to support this extraordinary partnership.”


Metropolitan Opera General Manager, Peter Gelb said: “We are delighted that the Abu Dhabi Festival was able to join us as a co-producer of the new production of Der Fliegende Holländer, we are grateful for their support and look forward to future collaborations.”


Homaid Al Shimmari, Deputy Group CEO and Chief Corporate & Human Capital Officer, Mubadala Investment Company, add: “The Met Opera’s first co-production with Abu Dhabi Festival is a significant milestone for Abu Dhabi’s growing reputation as an international cultural hub. As an organization, we are keen to continue to support events that promote arts and culture across the globe.”


Expanding upon its international presence in past years, Abu Dhabi Festival’s 2020 international programme also includes extensive co-commissions and co-productions across Germany, Spain and Poland.


The Abu Dhabi Festival 2020 will present iconic Arab musicians at Pierre Boulez Saal at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, enabling audiences to understand music on its countless levels as home for Arab music in Europe. Shining a spotlight on some of the most creative and original artistic voices of women in the Arabic world today, this season has been inspired by the legacy of legendary Egyptian singer, Umm Kulthum. The conclusion will be marked by Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh and veteran string quartet Brooklyn Rider, with an eclectic repertoire and gripping performance on 13 May 2020.


The programme will also host the world debut of ‘From Sheherazade to Yo, Carmen,’ one of the world’s finest contemporary flamenco shows at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in July 2020, a co-production by Gran Teatre del Liceu and Abu Dhabi Festival.


Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in April 2020, the Beethoven Easter Festival is set to feature symphony and chamber concerts, oratorios, operas and numerous accompanying events by internationally renowned artists, including the International Musicological Symposium, the Exhibition of Manuscripts and various masterclasses for young artists.


The international tour of the Filasteen Young Musicians Orchestra will also continue as part of Abu Dhabi Festival Youth Orchestra, featuring young Palestinian musicians committed to enhancing the classical music scene in Palestine.


The international programme will also see the continuing world tour of Palestinian singer and musician Omar Kamal bringing songs from his latest album to the Lincoln Centre in New York on 21 March 2020 and finally at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Santiago Opera House) in Chile in June 2020.


For further information on schedules, venues and performances please visit the Festival website


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