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Niloufar Talebi (San Francisco) collaborating with Merola Opera Program (San Francisco)

Award: $40,000 Performing Arts grant awarded in 2016

To be presented: Workshop in fall 2017 and premiere in 2018-19

Niloufar Talebi is creating a new opera, Abraham in Flames, inspired by the Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou. Talebi conceived the work, which features her libretto and music composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Shamlou (1925-2000) is among Iran’s most celebrated literary figures. Talebi knew Shamlou from his participation in her parents’ literary salons in the years after Iran’s 1979 revolution.  Abraham in Flames, the title of one of Shamlou’s seminal books, is a biblical metaphor for the purity of truth-seekers.

Merola Opera Program offers an advanced training program for opera artists that takes place during the summer. Roy Rallo, who has a long association with Merola Opera, will recruit and direct a cast of the Merola program’s professional alumni for Abraham in Flames. The project will culminate with a 60-minute performance written for Merola Opera alumni soloists and the San Francisco Girls Chorus, who will sing in English accompanied by piano, vibraphone, and small ensemble. Live performances will take place at the Fort Mason Center as part of FMC Presents, with a 30-minute workshop in fall 2017 and a full-length premiere in 2018-19.