Dubai Opera, the premier performing arts centre in the United Arab Emirates, and a jewel in the crown of Emaar, one of the world’s most esteemed and valued integrated real estate development firms, is thrilled to announce the inauguration of its new season, marking a continuous journey of artistic evolution since 2016.
Since its inception, Dubai Opera has emerged as the epicentre for performing arts in the Middle East, radiating cultural excellence and welcoming audiences globally. Celebrating its 7th anniversary with more than 40 breathtaking performances, it has highlighted the elegance of operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals, enchanting millions of hearts.
“As we embark on the new season, we are filled with immense pride in the remarkable artistic diversity that characterizes our lineup of performances and productions, catering to the entire community and bringing together prestigious companies and celebrated artists from around the world onto the stage of our exceptional venue,” says Dr Paolo Petrocelli, Head of Dubai Opera. “Dubai Opera continues to lead as an iconic ‘House of Cultures’, a vibrant and innovative hub, a meeting point where languages and cultures from across the globe intersect and meld daily, delivering a truly unparalleled and memorable experience to all audiences.”
Dubai Opera 2023-2024 Season Highlights
Swan Lake and Madama Butterfly
The season leaps to a start with Tchaikovsky’s immortal ballet, “Swan Lake,” showcased from September 8-10, followed by Puccini’s heartrending operatic narrative, “Madama Butterfly,” on September 12-13. These masterpieces are brought to life by the esteemed Hungarian State Ballet and Hungarian State Opera. Both performances will offer a unique chance to discover the exceptional talent of one of Eastern Europe’s premier musical institutions, which seldom embarks on tours beyond the borders of Hungary.
Swan Lake will be presenting the iconic and unforgettable choreography of Rudi Van Dantzig, one of the greatest choreographers of the twentieth century. Conducting the orchestra for this special occasion will be Gábor Hontvári, a well-established baton across Europe who has had major debuts at prestigious venues such as the Helbphilharmonie and Concertgebouw.
The renowned opera Madama Butterfly will be presented in a captivating new production helmed by director Miklós Gábor Kerényi. His productions have gained international acclaim at renowned theatres in London, Salzburg, and Jerusalem. The soloists, orchestra, and choir of the Hungarian State Opera will be led by János Kovács, one of Hungary’s most respected conductors with international recognition. Kovács has served as an assistant to Pierre Boulez in Bayreuth and has conducted as a guest at esteemed institutions from Berlin to Tokyo.
Uniquely, the season unfolds with dual opening galas on the 8th and 12th, offering Dubai’s community a chance to revel in an evening of unmatched elegance and artistry.
Teatro alla Scala Orchestra’s UAE Premiere
On December 1st 2023, Dubai Opera will mark an extraordinary cultural milestone: the historic debut of the celebrated Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan set to present a memorable gala concert titled “A Concert for Tomorrow.” The concert aims to unite audiences in a powerful display of solidarity and hope in support of the global effort to protect the planet and safeguard the well-being of future generations.
Timed during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), this exclusive artistic event will feature a spectacular repertoire by Italian maestros such as Verdi Puccini and Mascagni. Conducted by Michele Gamba, renowned for his close association with La Scala and recent triumphs in New York and Washington, the event stars world-renowned soprano Aida Garifullina and acclaimed tenor Piero Pretti. The event is supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Ministry of Culture and exclusively sponsored by Plenitude, an affiliate of the Italian energy company Eni.
“I am particularly delighted that the La Scala Orchestra will be a guest of the Dubai Opera for the first time on 1 December,” said Dominique Meyer, CEO and Artistic Director of Teatro alla Scala Milan. “On the podium, we will have Michele Gamba, a conductor who is still young but has already conducted several productions at La Scala, and internationally renowned singers Aida Garifullina and Piero Pretti. The programme includes works by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, whose death centenary we will celebrate next year. These composers represent the tradition and identity of our theatre, and the La Scala Orchestra performs them with an unmistakable sound and passion. Equally important is the occasion of this concert: La Scala shares the concern about the risks of global warming and is committed to a concrete plan of energy efficiency and rationalisation of resources that has already begun to yield important results. We are very excited about the performance and look forward to seeing you there”.
MusicAeterna & Teodor Currentzis in the Middle East
In a groundbreaking regional first, MusicAeterna, one of the world’s most celebrated ensembles that constantly pushes the boundaries of its creative powers, will perform two concerts on April 27-28, 2024, dedicated to Tchaikovsky and Wagner. The ensemble is led by world-class conductor Teodor Currentzis, regarded as one of the most fascinating, respected, and musically extraordinary figures of the past five decades.
Rome Opera Ballet’s UAE Debut
The Rome Opera Ballet, featuring Director and étoile Eleonora Abbagnato, takes centre stage in the UAE for the first time on May 25-26, 2024, with the exceptional performance “Les deux nuits,” complete with Dior-crafted costumes featuring the exquisite and opulent designs by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s creative director since 2016. These exquisite Dior designs exemplify the influence of haute couture and artistic expression on contemporary culture.
New Year Day Gala
A Cultural Symphony for New Beginnings
Inspired by Vienna’s iconic New Year concerts, Dubai Opera presents its own version on January 1, 2024. The event stars the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Julian Rachlin, a highly respected Austrian violinist and conductor, and features a diverse cast of singers from the Middle East. This cultural symphony heralds a new year of tolerance, inclusivity, and harmony.
From December 15-17, 2023, the Ballet Theatre and State Opera Orchestra of Astana (Kazakhstan) offer an enchanting rendition of “The Nutcracker,” inviting the Dubai Opera audience into a realm of magic.
La Scala Theatre Ballet School Debut
Dubai Opera’s ballet series receives an extra dash of allure as the La Scala Theatre Ballet School from Milan, one of the globe’s preeminent classical ballet academies, makes its Dubai Opera debut on February 17-18, 2024. This prestigious academy has produced renowned A-list stars such as Roberto Bolle and Jacopo Tisci, both former Bolshoi principal dancers.
For the first time in the GCC region, the enchanting world of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” takes the stage from October 3-15, 2023, offering a blend of whimsical storytelling and memorable tunes that promise to charm audiences of all ages.
The Phantom of the Opera
Back by popular demand, “The Phantom of the Opera” will enrapture spectators with its soul-stirring music and compelling narrative from February 22 to March 10, 2024.
The Inaugural Film Music Week
The curtain rises on the first-ever Film Music Week presented by Dubai Opera, a vibrant celebration dedicated to honouring iconic film composers.
Launching the series on May 9-10, 2024, is the “Official Concert Celebration of Ennio Morricone” paying tribute to one of cinema’s most revered composers, directed by Andrea Morricone, the late maestro’s son.
Following this are showings of two blockbuster films: “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl” on May 10 and 11, respectively. These screenings will be accompanied by live performances of John Williams’ and Hans Zimmers’ iconic scores.
The week concludes with a nod to the unparalleled talent of Charlie Chaplin. Audiences will enjoy a screening of a Chaplin classic, The Kid, celebrating its score composed by Chaplin himself.
At 81, the legendary Brazilian artist Gilberto Gil brings his ‘AQUELE ABRAÇO TOUR’ to Dubai Opera on September 29. With a Grammy-laden career spanning over 50 years, and a transformative stint as Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Gil’s influence is monumental. Joined by his family members on stage, the evening promises a vibrant musical journey that honours this global icon.
Internationally acclaimed violinist David Garrett performs on October 26 with his ‘ICONIC’ tour. Melding classical mastery with modern flair, Garrett has redefined the violin’s role in music, delivering an evening where classical meets contemporary.
Jazz virtuoso Kenny Garrett performs on October 28, unveiling his latest album, ‘Sounds from the Ancestors.’ With a career interlaced with legends like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, Garrett weaves ancestral rhythms into modern jazz, offering a multi-generational auditory experience.
Acclaimed singer Ali Sethi takes the stage on November 11, bringing his unique blend of traditional South Asian melodies and modern rhythms. Dubbed “stealthily subversive” by The New Yorker and featured on TIME’s 100 Next list, Sethi’s performance promises a harmonious blend of humour and soulful storytelling.
Rock legends Jethro Tull captivate on November 24, 2023, blending innovative flute melodies with iconic hits like ‘Aqualung.’ This evening will be a masterclass in the evolution of progressive rock.
On December 12, Tinariwen, a collective of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region of northern Mali. They are considered pioneers of desert blues, a blend of West African traditional music and electrified rock’n’roll, directly evoking this feeling of longing.
On December 21, Matteo Bocelli, a rising star from the famed Bocelli lineage, brings his unique blend of classical and contemporary music, promising an evening of emotive and modern lyricism.
Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells
Step into a sonic journey with Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” on January 12, 2024. Celebrating an album that revolutionised progressive rock, this evening offers an auditory tapestry that spans decades.
The mesmerising Ludovico Einaudi returns for a three-night engagement from January 19-21, 2024. With previous shows sold out, anticipate another captivating evening of ethereal piano compositions.
Alice Sara Ott – Echoes of Life
On April 24, 2024, pianist Alice Sara Ott will transport audiences through a vivid emotional spectrum with ‘Echoes of Life,’ showcasing her contemporary interpretations of classical music.
On April 25, 2024, the legendary British band Incognito will enliven the stage with their trademark fusion of jazz, funk, and soul, offering an electrifying experience that transcends generations.
Grammy-winning trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti performs on May 19, 2024, delivering an evening that oscillates between poignant ballads and vibrant jazz tunes.
Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica
Concluding this chapter, Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica perform on May 3, 2024, elevating the ageless beauty of classical chamber music.
International Jazz Day
A Special Concert with Ravi Coltrane
Celebrate International Jazz Day with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane on April 30, 2024. Bearing the Coltrane legacy, Ravi offers a modern twist on traditional jazz themes, creating an innovative musical narrative.
Dive into the dark realms of human ambition with a stirring performance of “Macbeth,” produced by English Touring Theatre, slated for November 3-5, 2023. This Shakespearean tragedy unfolds with a gravitas that only live theatre can offer.
Slava’s Snow Show
Kickstarting the theatre series is the enchanting “Slava’s Snow Show,” running from December 8-10, 2023. This whimsical performance promises a world awash in laughter and heartfelt emotion.
The Little Prince
Experience the magic with an imaginative adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s timeless classic, “The Little Prince,” from January 26-28, 2024. Prepare to be transported into a universe filled with philosophical insights and wonder.
Dubai Comedy Festival
In line with its commitment to promoting diverse creative arts, Dubai Opera also hosts must-see external events. Notably, the venue will be the setting for the eagerly awaited Dubai Comedy Festival, brought to you by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.
Partnerships & Collaborations
Fostering Cultural Synergy through Strategic Collaboration
In alignment with its aspiration to be a cultural hub for the Middle East and beyond, Dubai Opera has formed collaborative alliances with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, as well as the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). These partnerships are designed to catalyze the regional artistic ecosystem and reinforce ties with local communities. Through an array of ventures, including music festivals, educational initiatives, theatrical performances, and workshops, these synergistic collaborations aim to celebrate Dubai’s rich cultural heritage, engage the community meaningfully, and deepen cultural roots.
Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), part of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) said: “Our strategic collaboration with Dubai Opera exemplifies DFRE’s steadfast commitment to creating a dynamic relationship between culture, economic growth, and events including renowned live Arabic performances and award-winning comedy acts. This partnership is not only about DFRE’s support of the arts sector but is also a strategic endeavour that amplifies Dubai’s global appeal by offering an unparalleled blend of cultural experiences.
Dubai Opera, with its carefully curated season of opera, ballet, concerts, and theatre productions, captures our vision of Dubai as a destination where diverse cultures come together. This collaboration highlights our dedication to showcasing Dubai’s identity as a vibrant cultural hub while simultaneously fostering economic growth. At DFRE, we view this partnership as a pivotal step towards continuing to position Dubai as a world class culturally enriched city, setting the stage for an exciting future where culture, entertainment and events seamlessly intertwine.”
Dr. Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, emphasised the role of arts in expanding cultural tourism and enriching Dubai’s creative landscape. He highlighted Dubai Culture’s commitment to nurturing artistic initiatives that strengthen the emirate’s cultural and creative industries.
Bin Kharbash praised the partnership between Dubai Culture and Dubai Opera, stating, “This collaboration is highly valued and reflects our dedication to supporting performing arts and cultural events in the emirate. Through this, we aim to provide a platform that fosters innovation in the cultural sector and enables local talent to express their artistic visions to the public, utilising Dubai’s cultural and heritage assets.”
Lullaby Project: Uniting Communities Through the Power of Music
In an unprecedented partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which creates visionary programmes that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, making great music accessible to as many people as possible, Dubai Opera is proud to launch the Lullaby Project for the first time in the Middle East. This social initiative connects musicians with communities to craft lullabies for vulnerable families, using music as a universal catalyst for connection and harmony.
This project pairs new and expecting parents and caregivers with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies, supporting maternal health, aiding childhood development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.
“We are excited to welcome Dubai Opera to the Lullaby Project’s ever-growing network of partners,” said Tiffany Ortiz, Director, Early Childhood Programs for Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “Over the past twelve years, we’ve witnessed the Lullaby Project’s meaningful impact on caregivers and family well-being. We’re dedicated to bringing this programme to communities across the world by supporting more than 50 national and international partners. Thank you to Dubai Opera and their partners at Steinway and Sons for offering this impactful programme to families locally.”
With this venture, Dubai Opera and its esteemed partners aim to enrich lives and contribute positively to the region’s cultural tapestry.
Empowering the Next Generation of Performing Arts Professionals
Demonstrating an unwavering commitment to cultural advancement, Dubai Opera collaborates with Dubai College of Tourism to introduce an innovative Training Program. This programme equips aspiring performing arts professionals with the requisite skills and knowledge in both a theoretical and practical setting for sound, light and stage operations, fostering a broader understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity, thereby aligning with Dubai Opera’s ethos of promoting global cultural harmony.
Essa Bin Hadher, General Manager of Dubai College of Tourism, said: “Career development, skill enhancement, and increasing employability are the key benefits of vocational education, giving students an opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in practical situations and a deeper insight into their chosen fields. This collaborative endeavor with Dubai Opera will enhance real world skills to support performing arts professionals succeed in a creative industry as well as resonate with the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda 2033 to integrate the next generation of talents to the workforce. Just as vocational education bridges theory and practice, this initiative will also prepare students with real-world skills in the performing arts sector, as well as fostering a broader understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity. We believe our partnership with Dubai Opera will play a significant role in enhancing our city’s position as an international hub for creative talents, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Enriching the Cultural Experience Through Technology
Further broadening its artistic horizons, Dubai Opera embraces technological innovation through pioneering partnerships. Dubai Opera’s partnership with d&b audiotechnik ensures a cutting-edge auditory experience at Dubai Opera’s studio, captivating the senses with an immersive sound system to nurture and promote creative expression.
“Our partnership with Dubai Opera is driven by a strong set of mutual goals: Our willingness to explore new technological frontiers to experience a multitude of artforms. Our commitment to the development of the Middle East performing arts industry into a sustainable industry that is globally recognised as fostering the very best talent. And, importantly, our combined sense of unity and togetherness, working as one team – at d&b, we call this “Wir-Gefühl,” stated Amnon Harman, CEO of d&b audiotechnik
Furthermore, as Dubai Opera progresses in its technological advancements, it has forged a partnership with Preevue, a prominent provider of laser scanning and 3D Digital Twins for the Creative Industries. This collaboration empowers the Creative and Production teams to accomplish numerous tasks by utilizing a virtual model, replacing the need for traditional in-person methods. The state-of-the-art 3D visualization platform further enhances the patron experience, allowing a virtual walkthrough of seating plans for effortless booking.
“This collaboration marks a significant milestone in the global entertainment industry, as Preevue’s state-of-the-art digital twin technology brings a new level of innovation to one of the region’s leading performing arts venues. By integrating our tools to enhance technical and production workflows, and by offering our unique view-from-seat technology to the audience, we’re not only streamlining the behind-the-scenes processes but also enriching the customer experience. We’re thrilled to add Dubai Opera to the list of world-class venues using our technology,” stated Ryan Metcalfe, Managing Director of Preevue
The venue has also joined forces with Apple Music to offer a curated playlist for its forthcoming 2023/24 season, heightening anticipation for an exceptional lineup of performances.
Dubai Opera continues to receive support from the private sector. The contributions of its sponsors, Genesis, and Van Cleef & Arpels, have enriched the artistic landscape while reinforcing the commitment to fostering culture and the arts in the region. Their unwavering belief in Dubai Opera’s mission underscores the immense value of artistic collaboration and highlights the profound impact of uniting for a common purpose.
Embark on a Cultural Odyssey
As the curtain rises on a new season, Dubai Opera renews its commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, and cultural development. We are thrilled to showcase a range of global and local talents in music, theatre, and beyond, all within the luxurious setting of our state-of-the-art venue. Join us in making this season an unforgettable chapter in the continuing saga of Dubai as a world-class cultural destination in the region.