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INTERVIEW: JASPER HOPE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF DUBAI OPERA

After years of expectation and excitement, Dubai Opera is nearing completion, with performances scheduled to begin just four months from now, with world-renowned tenor Plácido Domingo launching its inaugural season on August 31.

And the man blazing the operatic trail here in the UAE is Jasper Hope, Dubai Opera’s chief executive, and previous COO of London’s Royal Albert Hall. Curating an inaugural season brimming with variety and world-class experiences, including Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers”, Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville”, performances by The Russian State Ballet, a “most dangerous” magic show and the Emirates’ own Hussain Al Jassmi, residents and visitors alike will benefit from Hope’s vast experience leading dynamic and creative seasons in acclaimed performance halls around the world.

Just after announcing the opera’s first set of scheduled performances (for which tickets will be available to purchase from April 24), we sat down with Hope to dig deeper into what the city can expect from one of its most anticipated projects to date.

 

What makes the Dubai Opera stand out from other great opera houses around the world?

It has the advantage of youth. The great opera houses of the world are all 100, 200 years old; even somewhere like Sydney – a relatively new one – is having its 50th birthday around about now, so these places have a history and heritage to fall back on. But we have the advantage of being brand new and being part of this extraordinary city, which is being created literally around us. 

Is this part of what attracted you to come and work with Dubai Opera?

In my world there are plenty of amazing old buildings I could have gone to work in, and I’ve had the privilege of working in a number of them already, but to work in a brand-new building – and not only brand new, but the very first building of its kind in the whole country – I’m never going to get that chance again in any other country in any other continent. I couldn’t possibly turn that down, it was like: “Wow, that’s something unique.”

How are you taking advantage of the youthful factor?

By not – I hope – falling into the bad old ways and habits that can creep in, in programming terms. We don’t have any rules that we feel obliged to follow. We believe we can ascertain who our audience is, ascertain exactly what they want, and then endeavour to get it for them. That may mean we end up with more of one kind of genre than we anticipated in the beginning. It may mean that in the course of any one year there may be more ballets than operas or more musicals than ballets or more concerts than musicals; we honestly don’t know, but being new allows us to experiment, and investigate all of the possibilities and genuinely find out what people want most and deliver it to them.

"Coppélia" will be performed by The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia

How have you found the experience of launching an opera house in Dubai in general? 

Any challenges or surprises?It’s the biggest single challenge of my life. I couldn’t imagine anything bigger right now. To be the first people and first building in a country that’s never had one of these before is no small matter, but it is an exhilarating ride. Every single day – and not just me, I now have a team of around 50 people – we love getting up, we love coming to work, we love preparing for this opening, and we are all so excited about what it mean for everyone we know: family, friends, the people in Dubai that we meet. It’s a pleasure to be part of that.

A rendering of the completed Dubai Opera by Emaar


19:43 - 29/05/2016    /    Number : 19    /    Show Count : 368


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