Sunday 23 September 2018

A comic opera performance, titled ‘Bartered Bride,’ which Alireza
sang in Tehran in 1974 with a musical ensemble

Top opera artist in major Bahrain push

MANAMA, July 25, 2015

A seasoned Bahraini opera performer, who has been staging productions across the globe for decades, hopes to pass on his expertise to young musicians in the country.

Enayatullah Alireza, 80, has performed at some of the grandest opera houses in the world and has put on shows for royals including the late Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, said a Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

The German resident, known by his stage name Enayat Rezai, now works as an opera producer and plans to promote what critics call a ‘dying art form’ in Bahrain and the Middle East.

“Opera is not only European music but an art form which is popular in China, Japan, Russia, Korea and other countries,” he told the GDN.

“In the Middle East there is a conflict between religion and Western music in which the real issue of creating opera houses is being ignored.

“I have visited South Africa at least 15 times as they have five different opera houses and I would like to do similar initiatives with culture authorities in Bahrain.”

The father-of-two said opera houses, such as the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman and the soon-to-be-opened Dubai Opera House in the UAE, could be used for theatre, opera, ballet, concerts and as a tourist destination.

“It is a place to show the richness of this art and spread the message that music is not against religion,” he explained.

“Many do not pursue their musical careers because of this conflict against Western music in the Middle East, but people don’t realise opera houses can be used for concerts, ballets and other musical shows.”

The Bahraini described spending his early years trying to convince his family to allow him to pursue his dreams of studying the classical music form.

However, his dreams were put on hold when he moved to Tehran in the early 40s with his parents and five siblings.

“My father was a merchant and spent his time travelling between Iran, Bahrain and Dubai,” said Alireza.

“We all moved to Tehran where I finished my basic education, but that was not enough as I was interested in opera.

“I was fascinated by the different opera singers at that time, but my father wanted me to join the business.”

His father finally caved in and accepted his aspirations of joining an opera company.

He was accepted into the Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory, a music school in Turkey, where he received training in baritone singing and opera singing by the late leading Italian baritone Carlo Galeffi.

“I received training in baritone singing and then opera singing,” he said.

“It made me more confident as I started to learn different genres of opera and slowly became interested in the production process.”

His outstanding work on stage was spotted by members of the Ankara Open House, who courted him to join their company after graduation.

“I learned about opera singing, costumes, drama and stage production during this period and later moved to Milan in the 60s where I worked on summer productions at the La Scala Opera House,” he added.

After performing several shows he moved to Germany for his first contract with the Gelsenkirchen Opera House, where he stayed for several years.

During his four-decade musical career, Alireza said his most memorable show was performing for the late Shah of Iran.

He was later invited by the Iranian Culture Ministry to open the Roudaki Hall Opera, now known as the Vahdat Hall, in Tehran in 1967.

“I worked as an opera producer for 10 years in Tehran and later as an artistic director during which I produced more than 40 different operas,” he said.

“On most of the opening nights the Shah of Iran or the former Queen (Farah Diba) were in attendance, and once even the then King of Saudi Arabia came to see a performance.”

He left Tehran in 1978 and travelled to Germany where he continued to produce operatic shows for different companies across Europe.

Alireza said it was high time to “return home” and share his experiences and knowledge with young performers who were forced to leave the region to pursue their dreams in theatre.  

“I am 80 years old and still fit to travel to assist young musicians to learn and produce different genres of opera in Bahrain,” he said.

“I want to come back and see opera houses in the Middle East, especially Bahrain as I am connected to it by birth.

“I have a lot to give back as I have produced operas in the US, Spain, Italy, South Africa and several other countries.”

Alireza is highly decorated as a performer and stage producer and has received medals for his contribution to arts and culture. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahraini | artist | Opera | musician |

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