NEW YORK: A noted American company is producing an opera on the life and legacy of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated in 2007.
Created by eminent Emirati-American composer Mohammed Fairouz, and award-winning Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif, the opera titled Bhutto will premier in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania next year.
“The opera focuses on Benazir Bhutto’s extraordinary life and the influences upon her, and the effect that her stand for women and their ability to lead has had on the world stage,” Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn was quoted as saying by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Post-Gazette reported that early in 2016 that Pittsburgh Opera had co-commissioned the opera about the life of Benazir Bhutto which was intended to premiere in 2018. However, due to financial and artisitic reasons, the premiere was quietly pushed back; but it is now set to debut in the 2019-20 season.
As per the report, the artistic minds behind the opera visited Pittsburgh on November 13 to work on the project with the full orchestra and chorus in the opera headquarters, an essential step in the creation of the production and a chance to display the work to potential donors to gather financial support.
Musicians, lead singers and soloists performed each act in its entirety, occasionally pausing briefly to talk through a passage.
Composer Fairouz was quoted as saying that he began thinking about the Bhutto story six years ago.
“Everybody has an opinion about Bhutto,” Fairouz said. “It’s often very personal, very passionate. As a composer you feel compelled to do something — and then you’re like an animal sniffing at truffles trying to uncover why it’s interesting.”
“When you write an opera, you have to start with research to find out why the story or idea compels you so much.”
Meanwhile, Hanif on this commented, “I knew nothing about opera of classical music. I was of course familiar with Bhutto as I grew up living in that reality. Growing up, you either loved them or hated them.”
“As soon as [Mohammed Fairouz] suggested Bhutto as an opera I said yes. It’s a bizarre story, really over the top for a novel. The father was hung, one brother poisoned, one brother shot … It’s a perfect fit. Really, each family member could have their own opera.”
Hanif pointed out that members of the Bhutto family are still active in Pakistani politics.
“We’re telling a story,” Hanif said. “It’s a family story that centers on power. It’s not intended to be divisive, but it’s political, so of course it will be. But that’s not a bad thing.”
Hanif also shared pictures from behind the scenes on his Twitter account.
First read-through of ‘Bhutto’ by @MohammedFairouz and librettist @mohammedhanif at the @PittsburghOpera, co-commission with @LyricTheatreIL and @BMPOPERA. Coming next year!https://t.co/QNnDtPtfNO pic.twitter.com/fQkjiFa25Y
— peermusic Classical (@peerclassical) November 27, 2018