What does it mean to tell a story? How do we reckon with the gaps in our history?
These questions animate the North Carolina premiere of Omar, an opera from Southern Futures at CPA Artist-in Residence Rhiannon Giddens and acclaimed composer Michael Abels. This sweeping new work draws inspiration from the 1831 autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, beginning long before the West African scholar was forced to board a ship bound for Charleston, South Carolina — the site of his initial enslavement. Pulling from a wealth of sources — including historical texts found in Carolina’s Louis Round Wilson Library — Omar tells a profound story of strength, resistance, and religious conviction in the face of harrowing circumstances. And, according to Giddens, it goes beyond a simple retelling to tackle issues that will resonate with a wide range of contemporary audiences.