Arrow down iconArrow left iconArrow right iconArrow up iconAudio iconBasket iconClose iconDocument iconExclamation mark iconMenu iconPhoto iconQuotation markQuote iconTick iconUser icon

Cities of Salt

Award-winning Syrian composer Zaid Jabri and librettists Yvette Christiansë and Rosalind Morris present four scenes from a new opera exploring the impact of the discovery of oil on a small desert community.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Cities of Salt. It was last on stage 22 July 2015 as part of the Summer 2014/15 season.


The year is 1932. Oil has been discovered in the Gulf States. The Bedouin men and women of one small oasis are caught in the whirlwind of forces embodied by the oil industry and the local oligarchy; a new epoch is being born.


Prize-winning Syrian composer Zaid Jabri presents a concert performance of four scenes from his new opera Cities of Salt. Writers Yvette Christiansë and Rosalind Morris provide the libretto, adapted from Peter Theroux’s translation of the seminal novel of the same title by Abdelrahman Munif. The opera is written for full orchestra with 12 soloists and chorus; this previous will feature scenes from each of the opera’s three acts, introduced by the esteemed Jordanian-British actor Nadim Sawalha.

Jabri’s music for Cities of Salt skillfully draws on Arab and European musical traditions, infusing the Western symphonic tradition with a sense of the Middle East through the use of microtones and vernacular traditions. His intelligent score brings this modern and timely tale to life in all its poignancy and violence.

News and features

  • Opera Essentials: Cities of Salt

    15 July 2015

    Our quick introduction to this opera about the impact of our hunt for oil on one small community in the Arabian Gulf.