Mohammed Fairouz: Sumeida’s Song


Sumeida’s Song, is Mohammed Fairouz’s first opera, completed when the brilliant Arab-American composer was 22 years old. The opera is based on Tawfiq al-Hakim’s play “Song of Death”, a classic in Arab theater. Sumeida’s Song follows the return of Alwan, a young man, from Cairo to his village in Upper Egypt. He defies his family’s expectations that he will fulfill an age-old blood feud. Instead, he reveals that the true purpose of his return is to end the violence, and bring light and enlightenment to his village. For challenging the structure of his society, he pays the ultimate price. Mohammed Fairouz’s score is an inspired synthesis of the microtonal inflections of Arabic maquam (much of the second and third scenes are composed using quarter-tones) and more traditional western opera. Sumeida’s Song comes at a poignant time in Arab history with Alwan posing the eternal question: “Have not our people the same rights in life as others?”

SUMEIDA'S SONG (2007-08) an Opera in Three Scenes

Music by Mohammed Fairouz

Libretto adapted by Mohammed Fairouz; based on Tawfiq al-Hakim's "Song of Death"

Mabrouka: Jo Ellen Miller, soprano

Asakir: Rachel Calloway, mezzo-soprano

Sumeida: Robert Mack, tenor

Alwan: Mischa Bouvier, baritone

The Mimesis Ensemble

Scott Dunn, conductor