Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

In a resounding crescendo of culture and melody, the 16th Edition of OperaAbuja unfolded its enchanting tale on November 26, 2023, at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel. This year’s musical extravaganza, aptly themed “The Sound of Music,” cast its spell over the captivated audience for over two hours, transporting them to pre-World War II Austria, writes Senator Iroegbu

Towards the end of every year, entertainment lovers in the Federal Capital Territory look forward to a thrilling rendition of an opera concert. Usually hosted at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel by the Abuja Metropolitan Music Society (AMEMUSO), the classical musical rendition captivated the colourful audience.

The 2023 OperaAbuja, which is the 16th Edition was themed: “The Sound of Music’, which is an adaptation of a classic musical film of the same name. Set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Austria, the musical film about Maria, a young aspiring nun, who becomes a governess for the widowed Captain Von Trapp’s seven children. The story revolves around the family’s musical talents, love, and their escape from the Nazis.

Like its original settings, this year’s OperaAbuja, for over two hours held the responsive audience spellbound with the local adaptation of the film, which explored themes of love, freedom, and the power of music in the face of adversity.

Rt.Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, lauded the performance for its poignant message of love and hope. Expressing pride in the growing local entertainment industry, he pledged support, envisioning a partnership with the AMEMUSO for National Assembly functions.

Speaking enthusiastically, Kalu promised to extend the services of AMEMUSO choir to the National Assembly functions, stressing that, “the message that was communicated this evening was communicating love and hope”, and that the adaptation reminded him “of a sound we had when we were growing up”.

He continued: “It was so refreshing I said I will have to see it to the end and I am happy I did. We celebrate you. We are proud of you and we are happy that our entertainment industry is growing by the day, what we used to see outside the country is now done back home. And the adaptation is wonderful seeing the colour adaptation and all of these are very wonderful.

“From now on people like us, members of the house of assembly will extend our hand of partnership with these organization and it is not a political talk.”

L-R: Kayode Olabode, Director of Sales-Government Relations Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Jasmine Ozdogan, Director of Operations Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Adeniyi Aderibigbe, Head Marketing and Corporate Communications Transcorp Hotels Plc; Betty Aguiyi-Ironsi, Commercial Director Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Bulent Tarlan, General Manager Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Ijeoma Osuji, eCommerce Manager Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Islam ElMaddah, Hotel Manager Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Asachi Ekwo, Guest Experience Manager Transcorp Hilton Abuja.

In the same vein, the E-Commerce Manager, Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, Ms. Ijeoma Osuji, who stood-in for the General Manager of the Hotel, Mr. Bulent Tarlan, thanked everyone who made time out to grace what she described as an “amazing concert Transcorp Hilton has supported since inception in 2007”.

She emphasized the importance of supporting the talented AMEMUSO choir, urging attendees to back the cause by purchasing tickets and spreading the word.

According to Osuji, the essence of their presence is to enjoy the showcase of talents and craft embedded in AMEMUSO’s OperaAbuja. “Let us push forward this course on how talented they are and make noise about it, so that the support they need, especially when they have shown like this support by buying a ticket. They have a website, look them up and support them as much as we can,” she urged.

The Sound of Music” was hailed as more than a classical spectacle by Ms. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi, Mandate Secretary, Women Secretariat, FCTA. She described it as the heartbeat of Nigeria’s culture, a legacy beyond the moment that resonates with humanity. She said: “The sound of Music’ as the sound of our nation the Federal Republic of Nigeria…the sound most importantly of the heartbeat of culture”.

Benjamins-Laniyi, who is also the Foundation President of AMEMUSO and OperaAbuja, noted that “the talent we have here from the children to the adults and everyone else, to the amazing personalities and their very distinctive personalities”. According to her, it is not just about the classical music but also about the humanity. “And in humanity there is always our humour and yes tragedy too but most importantly is that the sound of music brings a sort of legacy beyond the moment that we sit but more importantly that we connect too,” she added.

On his part, the Chairman of OperaAbuja 2023, Hon. Henry Nwawuba, appealed for assistance in elevating the event to a more permanent stage after 17 years of enchanting audiences. He called for the establishment of a theater in Abuja and emphasized leveraging the Legislative Arm’s resources to nurture the budding talents showcased at OperaAbuja.

Nwawuba who is also the Executive Secretary, National Assembly Library Trust Fund, commended the Deputy Speaker of the House for gracing the occasion and actively staying all through. He however, used the opportunity occasion to stress on the need to leverage what they have at the Legislative Arm to nature the budding talents of AMEMUSO as often showcased at OperaAbuja.

He said: “I just want to use this opportunity this evening to appeal to you that we need your support, it has been 17 years of doing the same thing on stage. Now the time is come that we must take the opera back to our culture. Build a culture…. Looking at the stage today, we need a theater in Abuja.

At this note, deputy speaker, our people will like to hear your voice. That we can do more to build a legacy of tradition, culture, music dance in Abuja. We can leverage on what we have at the National Assembly. To see how we can support and sustain this wonderful young talent that have performed and thrilled us today.”

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The 16th Edition infused Nigerian and African elements into the musical tapestry, with Benneth Ogbeiwi narrating the adaptation skillfully. Lead characters Maria and Captain Von Trapp, portrayed by Joanna Kate and Mathew Abah (Matt De Baritone), alongside the stellar performance of Pat Ekwere as Mother Abbess, added depth to the production.

As the melodies unfolded, the audience was treated to the harmonious voices of talented individuals like Ogbeiwi, a civil engineering graduate; Kate, a trained choral scholar; Abah, a multi-talented vocalist; and Ekwere, a trained dramatic soprano. The success of OperaAbuja was also credited to key figures like Ms. Maria Cecilia Toledo, Mr. Samuel Chijioke Ezugwu, Mr. Abednego Okafor, and Tom James Agahyande, who form the backbone of AMEMUSO.

As the final notes echoed, OperaAbuja 2023 left an indelible mark—a thrilling symphony that harmonized with the rich cultural heartbeat of Nigeria. The anticipation for a blessed Christmas season and a promising new year echoed in the hearts of Abuja’s residents, carried on the wings of the enchanting “Sound of Music.”

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