Spoleto Festival USA to premiere opera in 2020 by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels

Posted on: June 12, 2019

“Some portion of the men and women brought [to southeastern America during the Transatlantic slave trade] against their will, maybe 10 or 20 percent of them, were Muslim,” writes Adam Parker in Monday’s (6/10) Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.). “One who passed through Gadsden Wharf on the Charleston Harbor was Omar Ibn Said, sold in Charleston in 1807 at age 37 to a brutal master…. Spoleto Festival General Director Nigel Redden learned of Ibn Said and immediately an idea popped into his head: Opera. The festival would stage a musical rendering of Ibn Said’s extraordinary life, with its connections to Charleston.… But who could the festival commission to write it? He asked his staff, and Nicole Taney, director of artistic planning and operations, offered an unexpected name: Rhiannon Giddens … a classically trained musician … who has become a champion of research-based string band music that asserts its African and African American origins and influences.” The opera will be co-written by composer/orchestrator Michael Abels, whose film scores include Get Out and Us, and will be given its world premiere at the 2020 Spoleto Festival. Read an article by Rhiannon Giddens in the Spring Issue of Symphony magazine here.

Posted June 12, 2019

Rhiannon Giddens photo by Michael Weintrob