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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Becoming Violetta and what to expect in ROHM’s new season

As the Royal Opera House Muscat opens the season this Thursday with La Traviata, a Giuseppe Verde opera performed by Teatro Carlo Felice Di Genova and headlined by Placido Domingo, ROHM Director General Umberto Fanni shared that they are continuing the mission of providing Omani society and its youth access to world-famous productions and arts, demonstrating the potential of creative and cultural interaction.


“Faced with devastating challenges in recent years, we turn to art and culture now more than ever to inject hope and courage into our lives, to spark joy. It is our duty to nourish the light, to fuel it and keep it burning,” he shared during the media meet-up at noon of September 19.


‘We present the season celebrating tradition, innovation and talent, a season designed to extend a welcome to all of society, with family performance and engagement at its heart. The programming is defined by a diverse range of genres, a global embrace and the promotion of national music heritage,” he said.


ROHM’s return this season is powered by more than fifty events which are broken down into 90 performances, six operas, nine Arab concerts, three ballet shows, nine concerts, two jazz stars, four world music celebrations, three spectacular shows, two exhibitions and education and outreach events.


“With such programming, ROHM continues to position Oman and Muscat on the map as a centre of excellence in global cultural engagement presenting the world’s best artistic and cultural expression,” he said.


Addressing several key topics, Fanni pointed out there are numerous opportunities for Omani involvement in opera events. He shared that they continue to push for Omanisation and that out of the more than 200 people that work at ROHM, the Omanisation level is already at 80 per cent thereby providing the younger generation experience and expertise in an industry that is very demanding and complicated.


He added that even in the actual performances and production, the Omanis are very involved with some of the extras coming from the local community and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra and other musicians and talents tapped to perform different roles in different productions.


He also excitedly built up the season opener and was accompanied by Georgian operatic soprano Nino Machaidze who will be performing Violetta Valery on the September 22 and 24 shows, he is confident that Oman will see a world-class performance that Machaidze without a doubt will be able to pull off easily.


“Nino is one of the biggest soprano stars in the world with an incredible career. She has starred in major opera houses and festivals from around the world and we are fortunate that she is available to come again,” he said.


Becoming Violetta


It’s not Nino’s first time in Oman. In fact, this is her third visit to the country. She first came to ROHM to perform Romeo and Juliet several years back.


“I like coming back to Oman. This opera house is very beautiful and the acoustic is wonderful. In addition, all the people working here are so kind and so nice that I feel there’s no other opera house like this. For us, we come to opera houses where we know that working is such pleasure and there’s always happiness,” she shared.


“I truly like the place. I like the city. Whenever I am here, I always wanted to visit everything,” she shared.


For her role as Violetta, she said, “I have performed many Violettas. I love it very much because it is a beautiful role. It’s the kind of role that allows us to show all our abilities,” she shared.


She added, that performing the role “is not just about the vocal. If you can sing the technical parts, you also have to be physically prepared as well. Even emotionally. You have to try to feel the character as much as possible but at a distance,” she shared.


“Violetta is not a part that you can do when you are just starting your career as a singer. You can damage yourself. You can damage your voice. You can also suffer mentally. When you’re not ready, it can actually result in not being able to perform again,” she said.


According to Fanni, the role usually required three different singers because La Traviata has three acts all requiring different nuanced performances, especially on the vocal technique. He said that Nino is a gifted singer who can do justice to the three different parts.


“Your role as a singer is to be convincing. This kind of opera, the theatrical ones, it’s not only coming and singing or acting comical. This is drama. You know, as the performer, how the story goes. In the beginning, it might start happy, so you have to show that part of the act. Performing this role, you must have a good experience so you know what to give, the maximum one you can, but not overdo it,” Nino said.


Asked how she knew if she’s done a good job after the performance, she said that when people feel goosebumps, it means that you did a believable performance, something emotional and that the audience connected with it.


“Over the years, I realised how much I love this job, how much I feel happy to be able to do this job,” she said.


La Traviata will run from September 22 to 24 at 7 pm at the Royal Opera House Muscat. Placido Domingo will perform as Giorgio Germont on September 22 with Roman Burdenko taking over on the 23rd and 24th performances. Vittorio Grigolo will perform as Alfredo Germont on September 22 and 24 while Sergey Romanovsky will take over the role on September 23. Viktoria Karkacheva will perform as Flora Bervoix for the three shows.


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