Libretto by Paula Fünfeck, based on an Arabian tale; Arabic version by Mohamad Abu Zeid; Spanish version by Pablo Valdes; French version by Dominique Caillat & Catherine Fourcassié (G,Arab,S,F)
S,T,child singer,3speakers; children's chorus;
on-stage (ad lib. or from orchestra): 1.picc.2.2.2-126.96.36.199-perc:tgl/SD/BD with cym;
alternative instrumentation for 9 players: 0.1.1.1-188.8.131.52-2vln.vla.vlc.db
Cultural Palace, Ramallah
François Abou Salem & Paula Fünfeck, director / Youth Orchestra of the Barenboim-Said Foundation / Children's choirs from Ramallah and vicinity / Anna-Sophie Brüning
For the Barenboim-Said Foundation's first opera project we decided to commission a libretto, but not a new composition'with only a year to prepare, time would have been too short. We therefore took recourse to already existing music by the Spanish composer J. C. de Arriaga (1806–1826) and put together an opera pasticcio from several of his works. To this we added traditional Arabic music, played by musicians from the region. The music of Arriaga, who died at the age of nineteen and is often referred to as the 'Spanish Mozart,' is held in high regard particularly by string players, owing to his superb string quartets. Less known is his symphony, and completely unknown are his vocal scenes, chorale pieces, and small occasional compositions that until recently existed only in the original manuscripts and which we arranged for this opera with the generous support of the Fundación Vizcaina Aguirre. Arriaga's music is eminently suitable for this project. It is—like Mozart's—directly accessible and easily comprehensible for young people and adults alike, yet at the same time of the highest quality. Moreover, Arriaga lends our piece the so very important Spanish element. Even though the music comes from a later epoch, it symbolizes the land in which until the end of the fifteenth century the three monotheistic civilizations coexisted peacefully and in dialogue with one another. A dialogue that is largely missing today more than ever before.
(The work was first performed under the title Die Sultana von Cádiz / The Sultana of Cadiz.)