A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS Seattle Opera February 25, 2023 Eclectic Arts Media

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Seattle Opera

Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini
Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos
Directed by Roya Sadat

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

February 25, 2023 7:30pm

(Karin Mushegain as Mariam (left), John Moore as Rasheed (center), and Maureen McKay as Laila (right) in A Thousand Splendid Suns at Seattle Opera. Photo credit: Sunny Martini.)

The world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns brought both long time patrons and new crossover patrons to McCaw Hall Saturday evening. Based on the best selling novel of the same name, this opera is both timely and important in 2023. With a war raging (over a year now) overseas, along with a history of women being treated a notch above animals (if that) in Afghanistan, the audience was ready for the opera to shed some light on a tough and disturbing topic.

The intention behind everything the Seattle Opera does is highly commendable. From hiring Afghan consultants, Afghan musicians, and other Afghan artisans, the flavor that was so needed in this story was absolutely there.

From the staging which featured a rotating circle (half one set, half another), a portion of a school bus, hanging effects in the air, among other things, the set design and staging really brought the audience into the world at hand.

As a musician, I found the music about as on point as it could have been. I loved the change in motif throughout the opera and the use of unorthodox instrumentation as well as passages that were unnerving musically. It all added to the story and the presentation of this unique story.

The issues at hand such as women’s rights, sexual assault, domestic violence, basic human right’s, as well as war, religion, etc. made for a seriously strong opera.

(Maureen McKay as Laila (left) and Karin Mushegain as Mariam (right) in A Thousand Splendid Suns at Seattle Opera. Photo credit: Sunny Martini.)

John Moore as Rasheed was an absolute standout. His acting performance was one of the best I’ve seen at the Seattle Opera. Vocally, having seen him in other productions, I knew what he could do with his powerful baritone voice and he delivered yet again. Superb!

The other performances were also strong throughout the cast. I particularly liked Karin Mushegain as Mariam. Her skill really brought forth the emotional weight that her character needed and deserved. Well done!

For all that was strong about this opera, my only quibble is with the overall story and its pacing. It seemed more like vignettes during Act I than a smooth flowing story being told. Perhaps with more performances this will be worked out but I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a storyboard of an opera instead of an opera (if that makes any sense). Act II improved upon this but also could use some tweaking as well.

Overall, I believe A Thousand Splendid Suns will find its way around many stages in the opera world. The future looks bright for this worthwhile production.

Purchase tickets:  HERE!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts Media

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