Rhiannon Giddens' Recording of "Julie's Aria," From Her New Opera, Omar, Out Now on Nonesuch

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Ahead of the long-awaited world premiere of Omar, the opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, next Friday, Giddens has released her own recording of the song “Julie’s Aria” from the opera. The recording was made by Giddens with guitarist Bill Frisell and her frequent collaborator Francesco Turrisi. Omar is based on the life and autobiography of enslaved Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was forcefully brought to Charleston from Africa in 1807. “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard," Giddens says, "but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world—or in any world.” Omar will also be performed by LA Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

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Omar, the opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, makes its long-awaited world premiere next Friday, May 27, in Charleston, SC, at the Spoleto Festival USA. In the lead-up to this first performance, Giddens has released her own recording of the song “Julie’s Aria” that is featured in the opera. Giddens also wrote the opera’s libretto. The recording was recently made by Giddens with guitarist Bill Frisell and her frequent collaborator Francesco Turrisi. (Giddens does not perform in the production of Omar.)

You can hear “Julie’s Aria” below and here, and read about Omar in today's New York Times article at nytimes.com.

Omar is based on the life and autobiography of enslaved Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was forcefully brought to Charleston, SC from Africa in 1807. In a statement, Giddens notes: “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world—or in any world.”

Other major opera companies will perform Omar as well, including LA Opera in the fall of 2022 followed by Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a co-producer of the work (Omar was previously scheduled to debut at Spoleto in 2020 but was postponed that year and again in 2021 due to the pandemic). Giddens worked on the score with composer Michael Abels, who is known for his work on Jordan Peele's films Get Out and Us.

Giddens’ latest album release, They’re Calling Me Home (Nonesuch), won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album earlier this year. She tours throughout 2022 and will release her first book this fall, entitled Build a House. Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, Build a House is illustrated by painter Monica Mikai and tells the story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them.

OMAR PERFORMANCE DATES

May 27–Jun 12 Spoleto Festival USA Charleston, SC
Oct 22–Nov 13 LA Opera Los Angeles, CA
May 4–7 Boston Lyric Opera Boston, MA
     

RHIANNON GIDDENS ON TOUR

May 21 The Richmond Forum Richmond, VA
Jun 16&17 SFJAZZ San Francisco, CA
Jun 19 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Telluride, CO
Jun 24 ROMP Festival Owensboro, KY
Jul 1–11 Journeying Into the Common Good Patmos, GREECE
Jul 16 Caramoor Katonah, NY
Jul 22 Newport Folk Festival Newport, RI
Aug 23 Chautauqua Amphitheater Chautauqua, NY
Oct 15 Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
Nov 4 Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
Nov 12 Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
Jan 24 Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
Mar 10 Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
     
featuredimage
Rhiannon Giddens: "Julie's Aria"
  • Thursday, May 19, 2022
    Rhiannon Giddens' Recording of "Julie's Aria," From Her New Opera, Omar, Out Now on Nonesuch

    Omar, the opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, makes its long-awaited world premiere next Friday, May 27, in Charleston, SC, at the Spoleto Festival USA. In the lead-up to this first performance, Giddens has released her own recording of the song “Julie’s Aria” that is featured in the opera. Giddens also wrote the opera’s libretto. The recording was recently made by Giddens with guitarist Bill Frisell and her frequent collaborator Francesco Turrisi. (Giddens does not perform in the production of Omar.)

    You can hear “Julie’s Aria” below and here, and read about Omar in today's New York Times article at nytimes.com.

    Omar is based on the life and autobiography of enslaved Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was forcefully brought to Charleston, SC from Africa in 1807. In a statement, Giddens notes: “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world—or in any world.”

    Other major opera companies will perform Omar as well, including LA Opera in the fall of 2022 followed by Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a co-producer of the work (Omar was previously scheduled to debut at Spoleto in 2020 but was postponed that year and again in 2021 due to the pandemic). Giddens worked on the score with composer Michael Abels, who is known for his work on Jordan Peele's films Get Out and Us.

    Giddens’ latest album release, They’re Calling Me Home (Nonesuch), won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album earlier this year. She tours throughout 2022 and will release her first book this fall, entitled Build a House. Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, Build a House is illustrated by painter Monica Mikai and tells the story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them.

    OMAR PERFORMANCE DATES

    May 27–Jun 12 Spoleto Festival USA Charleston, SC
    Oct 22–Nov 13 LA Opera Los Angeles, CA
    May 4–7 Boston Lyric Opera Boston, MA
         

    RHIANNON GIDDENS ON TOUR

    May 21 The Richmond Forum Richmond, VA
    Jun 16&17 SFJAZZ San Francisco, CA
    Jun 19 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Telluride, CO
    Jun 24 ROMP Festival Owensboro, KY
    Jul 1–11 Journeying Into the Common Good Patmos, GREECE
    Jul 16 Caramoor Katonah, NY
    Jul 22 Newport Folk Festival Newport, RI
    Aug 23 Chautauqua Amphitheater Chautauqua, NY
    Oct 15 Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
    Nov 4 Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
    Nov 12 Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
    Jan 24 Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
    Mar 10 Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall New York, NY
         

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