Afternoon at the Opera

Opera Gala 2021

Man stands on barrel surrounded by other men looking up at him

Ahraf Sewailam as Ali Baba, photo by Lance Ozier WFTM Radio Network

For this year's Opera Gala, we celebrate a work that was lost for over a century and later reconstructed by Opera Southwest’s Artistic Director Anthony Barrese. This is a truly phenomenal piece of operatic history brought straight to you, thanks to programs like Afternoon at the Opera and listeners like you!

Program notes courtesy of WFMT:

Opera Southwest has built a reputation among opera aficionados as an under-the-radar destination for exceptional performances of rarely performed operas, which includes this production of Bottesini’s Ali Baba. Music Director, conductor, and composer Anthony Barrese leads the group.

With a libretto based on “Alì Babà and the Forty Thieves,” the well-known and lively story from One Thousand and One Nights, Alì Babà was composed by Giovanni Bottesini, an Italian composer and double bass virtuoso known as the “Paganini of the bass.” The opera premiered in 1871 in London, receiving considerable acclaim and numerous performances. However, later the score was lost and the opera has not been heard in well over a century. Opera Southwest Artistic Director Anthony Barrese has reconstructed the score from the composer’s original manuscript, and Opera Southwest has given the work its modern American premiere. Opera Southwest’s production of Ali Baba was sponsored by the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation.

Opera Southwest (OSW) is Albuquerque’s opera company and its mission is to produce quality, professional, enjoyable and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages. The company was founded in 1972 as Albuquerque Opera Theatre by Dr. Edward T. Peter, Maestro Kurt Frederick and others. The 2020-2021 season is Opera Southwest’s 48th year of producing world-class opera in Albuquerque.