Domingo, Terfel Join Bossa Nova at Abu Dhabi Festival

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Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Gilberto Gil plays Brazilian bossa nova and samba during the Abu Dhabi Festival. The event, in its 10th year, celebrates the best in international and regional dance, visual art, opera, music and traditional crafts.

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Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Gilberto Gil plays Brazilian bossa nova and samba during the Abu Dhabi Festival. The event, in its 10th year, celebrates the best in international and regional dance, visual art, opera, music and traditional crafts. Close

Gilberto Gil plays Brazilian bossa nova and samba during the Abu Dhabi Festival. The event, in its 10th year,... Read More

Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

World music star Gilberto Gil, center, with other musicians during the 2013 Abu Dhabi Festival. Gil is a Unesco artist for peace and a former Brazilian culture minister. Close

World music star Gilberto Gil, center, with other musicians during the 2013 Abu Dhabi Festival. Gil is a Unesco... Read More

Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Egyptian vocalist Dina El Wedidi joined her Rolex mentor Gilberto Gil for a concert of musical fusion. The show had the rhythms of South America, Europe and Africa. Close

Egyptian vocalist Dina El Wedidi joined her Rolex mentor Gilberto Gil for a concert of musical fusion. The show had... Read More

Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Placido Domingo in a return performance to the Abu Dhabi Festival at the Emirates Palace. The Spanish tenor and Unesco Goodwill Ambassador got a standing ovation from the sell-out festival audience. Close

Placido Domingo in a return performance to the Abu Dhabi Festival at the Emirates Palace. The Spanish tenor and... Read More

Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Grammy Award-winning lyric soprano Ana Maria Martinez, with Placido Domingo. Martinez, in her second appearance at the festival, and Domingo were accompanied by the Czech Philharmonic. Close

Grammy Award-winning lyric soprano Ana Maria Martinez, with Placido Domingo. Martinez, in her second appearance at... Read More

Source: Abu Dhabi Festival via Bloomberg

Placido Domingo receiving the Abu Dhabi Festival Award presented by festival patron Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan. They are joined on stage by Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, left, and Eugenio Salarich, ambassador of Spain to the United Arab Emirates. Close

Placido Domingo receiving the Abu Dhabi Festival Award presented by festival patron Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan.... Read More

Spain’s Placido Domingo kissed his Puerto Rican singing partner Ana Maria Martinez, Bryn Terfel belted out tunes from his Welsh homeland and Gilberto Gil played bossa nova from Brazil at this year’s Abu Dhabi Festival.

The increasingly international event, the biggest in its 10-year history, is billed the foremost celebration of art and culture in the United Arab Emirates. Gulf states are using oil wealth to attract the world’s best-known arts stars and institutions.

Bass-baritone Terfel ended the festival’s musical performances at the weekend, singing arias by Donizetti and others, accompanied by soprano Victoria Yastrebova from Russia’s Mariinsky Opera.

“This is an extraordinary festival,” Domingo said in his earlier concert in the Emirates Palace.

“The first time I sang in Abu Dhabi it was in the desert, you remember?,” he asked his friends among the audience, including culture minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan and Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, who founded the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.

Domingo twirled Martinez around during their duets which were accompanied by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Eugene Kohn.

The first half featured works by Verdi and Richard Wagner, to commemorate 2013 as the bicentenary of the births of the composers.

Kissing Festival

The mood then became lighter with Broadway tunes as “treats for people who aren’t coming from the operatic world,” Kohn said during a preconcert briefing. Domingo repeatedly kissed Martinez’s hand and the crowd clapped along to “Besame Mucho,” the first of four encores.

“This connection between the artist and audience, this is the highlight for me,” Kanoo said.

Brazil’s former culture minister Gil -- like Domingo, also in his 70s -- mixed African and European influences. He was joined on stage by Dina El Wedidi, an Egyptian who won a mentorship with him as part of the Rolex Arts Initiative.

Among the audience was Jean-Luc Guiziou of Total SA, Badr and Majid Jafar of Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum, and officials from state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Mubadala Development Co.

The festival also hosted an exhibition of contemporary Arab art in partnership with the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe, educational talks and theater shows for children.

Oman Opera

The festival coincided with the contemporary art exhibition Art Dubai, the Sharjah Biennial, and the du World Music Festival being held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah. Other projects include art-gallery plans and the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman.

“I have attended this festival every year since it started,” Dominique Fabrer, human resources manager at BP Plc (BP/A) in Abu Dhabi, said during the interval of Domingo’s performance. The Frenchwoman was out on the terrace, where guests were enjoying the warm evening sipping wine or champagne and munching shawarmas. “I love the ambience, the people. Here people dress up, not like in Europe, where going to a concert has lost its formality.”

Information: http://www.abudhabifestival.ae/en

(Ayesha Daya is a freelance writer for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include John Mariani on wine and Jeffrey Burke on books.

To contact the writer on this story: Ayesha Daya in Abu Dhabi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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