Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

Posted March 11th, 2008 by Andrea Vianello

A new musical centred on the historical figure of Zenobia Queen of Palmyra is drawing crowds in the Middle East and attracting international attention. Theatrical performances on historical subjects are relatively frequent in both theatre and opera, but not many have been produced lately. A recent Limelight on Archaeology and performance includes a list of interesting websites on performances on the past, ancient theatres (often used for representations) and archaeology-inspired theatre. However, I could find very little on the source of inspiration that archaeology has had on performances. I must admit that I have not been impressed of a modern version of an ancient piece of theatre played inside an ancient theatre, though they are becoming increasing popular. I still prefer the Aida, possibly played in the Arena of Verona. Giuseppe Verdi, the author of Aida, also wrote other nice opera plays such as Nabucco: the Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves, a part of the play, is one of my preferred pieces, still very powerful. With Verdi in mind, it can be difficult to find something comparable, but the new musical seems to offer something fresh and enjoyable.

The fact that this musical is touring a region of the planet plagued by wars and tensions makes me particularly happy to report about it. The story will sound familiar to many: the struggle of an Arab heroin/ruler against the mighty power of Rome representing western imperialism at its zenith. However, the performance puts this two worlds together with elegance, in an appropriate historical setting. The web page that I suggest only offers a journalistic reportage of the musical. There are several clips of the actual musical published in YouTube, I selected two by “dandandaw“.

and here is the second part:


  1. judith weingarten says: March 15, 2008 @ 11:04 am

    Another slant on the Rahbani play at my website
    Zenobia:Empress of the East