‘Opéra Shéhérazade’ in Tunis sings the story of women in the history of the region |


The Opera Theater of the City of Culture in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, will host, this week, “Opera Scheherazade” by Lebanese artist, Jahida Wahba, who has already played part of the musical in Tunisia before the pandemic, but it will be time to play the roles of six other characters in addition to that of Scheherazade.

The show is an opera that alternates between contemporary, oriental, Mediterranean and African Amazigh art. The opera itself is a Tunisian-Lebanese production by Tunisian artists Emna Remili and Samir Ferjani, in addition to Lebanese artist Jahida Wahba.

The show is a modern take on “One Thousand and One Nights”, which depicts Shahryar asking himself the big question: how has Scheherazade changed him? The question leads to songs that are sung through the voices of local women who have changed the face of human history in politics, love and poetry, such as the Carthaginian Queen Dido (Elissa), Cleopatra, Rabaa Al-Adawiya, Wallada Bint Al-Mustakfi, Zenobia and Al-Khansa.

Wahba says of these characters: “They are characters that transcend space and time. They are presented by Shéhérazade, whom I interpret in the show, through songs. Sometimes she embodies these characters and sometimes talks about them or sings some of their poems, as in the case of Rabea Al-Adawiya when she talks to the Creator or Al-Khansa when she mourns her brother Sakhr.”

Discussing the concept behind the musical, the Lebanese artist says the idea came while she was honored at the “Elissa International Forum for Creative Women” during its inaugural session, which took place in April of the year 2018 in Tunisia.

From there, the idea caught on, Ferjani coordinating the project with the Tunisian poet and novelist Emna Remili, who took over the writing of the text, in order to make it an integrated lyrical work combining song, dance and acting. The music is played by the Youth Orchestra of El Jem, under the aegis of the Authority of the International Festival of Symphonic Music of the ancient city of El Jem (Central Tunisia).

“What distinguishes this show from others is that it is a Tunisian lyrical work that respects the specifications and the basic techniques of opera, in particular lyrical singing and lyrical theatrical direction, in addition to a lyrical musical composition and a Tunisian text that is part of a new and contemporary reading of the story of the Arabian Nights,” said Wahba.

About Wesley V. Finley

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