Celebrating the Year of Zayed, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Tolerance and The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, premiered the original youth opera, Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy, yesterday at the state-of-the-art The Red Theatre. The event will be reprised today, with a matinee at 4pm. The opera, supported by the British Council, will highlight the UAE’s vision for sustainability, conservation of heritage and environment, tolerance, and Sheikh Zayed’s belief that water is the UAE’s most valuable resource.

Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy tells the story of the youth of Abu Dhabi understanding where water comes from, drawing inspiration from the stories of the past as a means of reflecting on our responsibilities for the future. Over 80 pupils of different ages and backgrounds come together to perform this unique production. The opera features symbols of the UAE’s rich heritage and culture throughout the story, including the falcon, the ghaf tree and dates. The performance covers the significance of preserving the environment for future generations, spreading messages of tolerance and the impact of UAE’s leadership and Sheikh Zayed’s legacy.

The opera is led by a creative team comprising Artistic Director Karen Gillingham and Composer Hannah Conway, both of whom were part of Cranleigh’s highly successful 2016 pilot opera project Beautiful World. The team – a librettist, filmmaker, choreographer and designer – have worked with pupils to build the storyline, original musical score, dance choreography, and design.

Themes interwoven in the storyline were developed by the pupils during a series of devising sessions with the UAE Ministry of Tolerance, Lest We Forget on Emirati social history and archiving, and Goumbook on sustainability and the UAE’s environment. The sessions were conducted as part of a cross-curricular aspect with different year groups to inform, educate, and inspire pupils on awareness of the environment, and preserving visual and oral history through archiving.

The performance will be open to the public and free to attend. Ticketing is available at the Box Office at The Arts Center and online on their website.

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