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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Refugees Breathe New Life into Idomeneo Opera

ROMA – A group of refugees and asylum seekers will perform in an opera about the Trojan wars that mirrors the experiences of the 30 amateur actors based in Italy.

In the “Idomeneo, King of Crete” opera, which tells the history of the Cretan king after the Trojan War, the refugees will interpret the victims of the fall of Troy who many millennia ago also experienced the plight of having to forcibly leave their war-torn country.

For many of them, this is the first time they step onto the stage.

“I’m learning Italian and now I have a job here in the theatre,” Syrian Carol Almarri, 28, told EFE.

She is one of the amateur actors who has been offered the opportunity to play a role in the opera.

“The experience is nice, although it’s the first time for me.”

Like Almarri, Maya Zahida, 18, is a Syrian migrant who arrived in Italy thanks to the humanitarian corridors of Sant’ Egidio’s community.

“It’s a good experience,” she said.

Zahida left her home in Damascus after spending five years in Lebanon and now she lives in peace with her son in Italy.

The opera, with music by Mozart and libretto by Giambattista Varesco, aims to be a modern version of the Trojan War although aesthetically is very different from the Greek myth.

The director, Canadian Robert Carsen, turns the myth into a powerful metaphor for what is happening today, many centuries later, in the heart of the Mediterranean with the migratory flows to Europe.

Nigerian Bella Godwin, 29, managed to survive a trip from Libya by boat in November 2015.

“It means a lot to me. At least I’ve been able to achieve one of my dreams. In the future, my dream is to be an actress,” Godwin confessed.

Among the novice actors who have joined the work is Colombian Jaime Herrera, 40, who left his home and family in Bogota.

“It’s the first time I play in a theatre, I’m an engineer and I’ve never done this before,” he told EFE.

The Spanish tenor Joel Prieto plays Idamamante, the son of the Cretan king and one of the main characters in the opera.

“This situation is taking place now and their participation has touched us,” Prieto said.

“The play denounces the situation and raises awareness. It offers suggestions.”

Idomeneo has been co-produced with the Madrid Royal Theatre and will be on show in Rome’s Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome from Friday until November 16.

With its powerful narrative, enriched with visual effects and atmospheric lighting, the Teatro dell’ Opera will recover a rare work that Mozart composed at the age of 25 and has not been heard in the Italian capital since 1983.


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