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Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels on the music of 'Omar'

Leigh Webber
Tenor Jamez McCorkle as Omar

In this Sonatas & Soundscapes interview that aired Monday, May 30th, host Bradley Fuller is joined by Grammy-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens and composer Michael Abels for a conversation about their new opera Omar.

Giddens and Abels offer insights into their artistic vision for the work, explaining how they drew on a range of musical influences to tell the story of Omar ibn Said—from his freedom as an Islamic scholar in Futa Toro (modern-day Senegal) to the writing of his Arabic autobiography after more than two decades of enslavement in the Carolinas.

Directed by Kaneza Schaal, conducted by John Kennedy, and featuring tenor Jamez McCorkle in the title role, Omar received its world premiere on Friday, May 27th at Charleston's Sottile Theatre. The opera is also scheduled as part of upcoming seasons of the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

More information about Omar, its cast, and additional Spoleto Festival performances can be found on the festival's website.

Ebru Yildiz
Rhiannon Giddens
Eric Schwabel
Michael Abels

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Originally from Greenwood, SC, Bradley Fuller has maintained a deep interest in classical music since the age of six. With piano lessons throughout grade school and involvement in marching and concert bands on the saxophone, Bradley further developed musical abilities as well as an appreciation for the importance of arts education.