Susan Hamilton, director of Performing Arts at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, rehearsing with students Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Students of Cranleigh School are preparing to stage a contemporary opera inspired by late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s famous poem, Beautiful World.

The unique production will bring together a professional creative team including opera singers from the UK, a talented Emirati artist and over 80 Cranleigh Abu Dhabi students and members of staff. The show will take place at the school auditorium on November 14 on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Art 2016.

Speaking to XPRESS, Susan Hamilton, director of Performing Arts at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, said four professional opera educationalists including a director, composer, choreographer and designer will work with the students for five days to create the opera adapted from the poem. The school is also flying in two professional opera singers from the UK to lead the performance.

Perfect genre

“We were looking at a unique way to celebrate performing arts and creativity in Abu Dhabi. Opera is a perfect genre for the project as it combines elements of art like drama, dance, music and design,” said Hamilton.

The school opera project will be led by Karen Gillingham, artistic director, Youth Opera Company at Royal Opera House that performed for the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.

“What attracted us most about this project was the opportunity to use our experience to create something unique that will play a meaningful role in Abu Dhabi’s extraordinary cultural story,” said Karen. The second part of the project is an art exhibition by Zayed University student Narjes Noureddine. A gifted calligraphy artist, Noureddine uses Arabic poetry to create her paintings and 3D works in traditional and abstract forms of calligraphy. Narjes will also create a commissioned work based on the poem Beautiful World. The exhibition will run from November 9 to 24.

Hamilton said the five-day process will give students and the Cranleigh faculty a unique opportunity to work with some of the best creative professionals and learn new techniques and ideas. “The team is not coming with any set ideas. This will essentially be an Opera conceived by our students based on their interpretation of the poetry and their experience of Abu Dhabi’s cultural richness and beauty,” said Hamilton.

She said the school is also considering developing the school opera into a pilot project for artistic education in the emirate.