Beautiful World Opera Project

HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan congratulates Cranleigh performers at the Beautiful World revival in the National Theatre, December 2016


Beautiful World: Students create an Opera in Five Days, Ministry of Culture requests a Revival

Beautiful World was a ground breaking educational project initiated in 2016 as part of our co-curricular cultural and arts programme. From the outset, the project’s aspirations were ambitious, focusing on two key goals. Firstly to find a new and innovative way to celebrate UAE culture; and secondly, to inspire and develop children through performance and visual arts.

It all started with the moving poem, Beautiful World, written by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Father of the Nation. Beautiful World became the muse for talented Emirati-born calligraphy artist, Narjes Noureddine, and resulted in the creation of a new and exquisite collection of artworks which were exhibited at Cranleigh in association with Abu Dhabi Art in November 2016.

Narjes’ exhibition was opened by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. It was presented in collaboration with, and curated by Zayed University’s College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, where Narjes is a fourth year student.

With Narjes’ artworks and the poem as the starting point, the second part of the project saw Karen Gillingham, Artistic Director of the Youth Opera Company at London’s Royal Opera House, bring together a hugely talented creative group comprising a music director, choreographer, designer and two opera singers. Narjes joined this dynamic, professional team and together, they worked intensively with 80 students and Cranleigh’s own performing arts faculty to devise, shape and stage a unique production. Everything, from set design to costumes, and dance choreography to musical libretto, was created by the students themselves, in less than five days.

The power of the project lay in the journey; in the lessons of teamwork and leadership, of tenacity and collaboration, commitment and self-expression as well as in the subject matter, which fused the rich heritage and beauty of the UAE with a Western operatic performance style.

The Beautiful World story concluded on December 6th 2016 at Abu Dhabi’s National Theater with the installation of Narjes’ exhibition and a revival performance of the opera under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. The opera featured as part of No Limits, a powerful trilogy celebrating ‘Heritage, Harmony and Human Potential’ which was presented by The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development as part of its 45th National Day programme. 

The project was widely praised and won the Drama/Arts Programme of the Year 2017 award at the Education Journal Middle East Awards. It was a pilot and, based on its success, we are working with The Ministry of Tolerance on the next project, scheduled for late 2018. 

To read more about Beautiful World, click here