The World Premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s opera Sumeida’s Song on the HERE Main Stage for PROTOTYPE was the first Arab-American opera to be fully produced on an American stage. Based on the classic Tawfiq El-Hakim play, Song of Death, the opera follows the return of a young man, Alwan, from Cairo to his Upper Egyptian peasant village. He defies his family’s expectations to fulfill an age-old blood feud, instead revealing the true purpose of his return: to end the cycle of violence. For his attempts to bring light and modernity to his village, and for challenging the structure of his society, he pays the ultimate price.
Tawfiq El-Hakim’s story is well known in the Arab World, and Fairouz’s operatic adaptation captures the underlying aspirations of young people, like Alwan, who stand up for their ideals and for aspirations of a better life. Alwan’s resonant proclamation — “I won’t kill” — embodies the noble mission of justice and progress in this timeless, timely, and universal story.
This world-premiere production featured a chamber orchestration with Arabic and western instruments. Mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway led the cast of four singers.
Photos by Jill Steinberg.
Set Design by Zane Pihlstrom
Lighting Design by Lenore Doxsee
Costume Design by Alixa Gage
Production Stage Manager Ryan Gohsman