Saudi opera house

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Al-Watan newspaper

I BELIEVE the Saudi opera building in the capital city would soon outshine Riyadh Towers and Jeddah Fountain as the major tourist attraction in the Kingdom because of its countless cultural, social and economic benefits. It will bring about a qualitative change in our mindset after extremist forces deprived us of art and culture for a long period and prohibited us from things that would contribute to softening our hearts and minds, cleansing our souls and connecting human beings with one another.

I was very happy along with many other citizens when Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the Paris Opera House a few days ago to help the Kingdom establish a national orchestra and opera house. I cannot explain my feelings thinking about such a wonderful cultural edifice, which we have been dreaming so long and awaiting its dawn in this land of love and beauty. Since the project will soon become a reality on the ground, there is no point in making negative comments on its cost and managers. It will spearhead the Kingdom’s endeavors to fight the forces of militancy and extremism.

At times of wars people will sacrifice their money and lives in their bid to achieve victory, and today we are in a cultural war with the enemies of happiness and forces of darkness. No voice can defeat the peaceful battle against the forces of extremism.

I'm not claiming thorough knowledge about opera. I know that my knowledge of opera and world of music would not exceed that of many people. I am expressing here my personal feelings while enjoying music. It’s similar to the feeling of those who listen to Indian music without knowing a single Hindi/Urdu word. Yes, this is music and art, which can be considered universal languages.

You don’t need to understand German language to enjoy Beethoven's music, for example, and the Austrian language to understand Mozart Orchestra. You need not learn Spanish to enjoy Picasso’s music. When you live in a society that does not promote these arts but fight them, you will lose the ability to converse in global languages and you will not be able to understand others and you will not have the desire to build bridges of contact with people of other cultures and faiths.

As a result, one will become an introvert following his own customs and traditions, his language and faith. Yes, the absence of art and culture is the main cause for the corruption of souls and morals and subsequently the corruption of everything.

Like few other activities, the music involves the use of the whole brain. It improves memory, attention, physical coordination and mental development. The classical music stimulates the regeneration of brain cells. Certain music improves the mood, intelligence, motivation and concentration. It also improves the quality of life and aids in physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. It helps in the treatment of autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, emotional trauma, mental disorders and depression. Music decreases anxiety, anger, stress and frustration.

The Italian word ‘opera’ means ‘work’ both in the sense of the labor done and the result produced. It is a theatrical piece that tells a story totally through music with the support of instruments. In some operas the music is continuous throughout an act while in others it is broken up into discrete pieces or numbers separated either by recitative (a dramatic type of singing that approaches speech) or by spoken dialogue.

Opera consists of poetry, music and melodies as well as ballet, decorative and fine arts and mime and their blending. Its songs include singles, duets and triads as well as recitatives and choir accompanied by full orchestra.

The establishment of an opera house in the Kingdom is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia that would strengthen its relations with peoples and civilizations of the world. It is wrong to believe that opera is just a Western model. There are Egyptian, Kuwaiti, Omani, Emirati, Chinese, Japanese and Korean opera houses.

Finally, I would like to thank the government, and everyone contributing to the creation of this great cultural landmark in the Kingdom. We hope its opening day would be a memorable one in the history of Saudi Arabia as it would mark our exit from the tunnel of gloom and return to the path of progress and renaissance.


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