June 17, 2024
Rhiannon Giddens & Michael Abels

OMAR tells the story of Omar ibn Said, a Muslim African who was kidnapped by slavers and brought to the US in 1807. His literacy in Arabic became source of fascination for his captors, and their motivation to order him write his autobiography, along with transcribing the Psalms in order to inspire him to convert to Christianity. The resulting manuscripts are one of the few surviving narratives by an enslaved person in the US, and are now preserved in the Library of Congress. The opera was commissioned by SpoletoUSA to world-renowned artist-singer-songwriter-historian Rhiannon Giddens, who in turn asked Abels to collaborate with her to compose this powerful work featuring rising operatic star Jamez McCorkle in the title role.

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