The Middle East’s slow drive toward something like enlightenment is at the core of Mohammed Fairouz’s 2009 opera Sumeida’s Song, which opens the debut Prototype: Opera/Theater/Now festival. The staged premiere of Fairouz’s work, composed when he was 22, portrays the return of a Cairo-educated son to his Upper Egypt village, where he has been recalled by his mother to avenge the murder of his father many years earlier. Based on the play Song of Death by Egyptian author Tawfiq al-Hakim, Sumeida’s Song reflects the friction between the fading old ways and the ethical progress afforded by education, with more than a few parallels to recent Middle East history. Other conclusions can probably be drawn from Fairouz’s dropping of Arabic microtonal maquam into his mostly Western... More >>>