"How beautiful and strong we are when we value and celebrate our humanity."
Manas Ghanem, Community Liaison

28, 30, 31 July 2022
Start time: Thursday & Saturday 7.30pm, Sunday 3pm (matinee)

A new "People's Opera", co-created and performed by 180 amateur & professional participants, about a refugee Syrian girl who triumphs over adversity to follow her dream: a story which champions diversity through music to highlight what makes us all human.

Dalia, a new opera by composer Roxanna Panufnik, librettist Jessica Duchen and director Karen Gillingham, has been commissioned by Garsington Opera to engage local participants of all ages from diverse backgrounds, with professional and emerging artists for new audiences in a creative community opera.

The opera, premiering in summer 2022, is an original story, developed in close consultation with refugee organisations, sports charities and practitioners. The central character, Dalia – a young girl of 12, arrives in Britain as a refugee from Syria having lost her family in traumatic circumstances. Fostered by a local family, she discovers a passion for cricket. She follows her dream but must contend, however, with racism from the community, battle her demons and make an impossible decision.

Sung in English with English supertitles

Adrianna Forbes-Dorant
Merit Ariane
Kate Royal
Jonathan Lemalu
Ed Lyon
Andrew Watts
Douglas Boyd
Karen Gillingham
Rhiannon Newman Brown
Lighting Designer
Ben Pickersgill
Natasha Khamjani
Roxanna Panufnik
Jessica Duchen
Refugee & Activist
Gulwali Passarlay
Community Liaison
Manas Ghanem
Philharmonia Orchestra
Garsington Opera Youth & Adult Companies
Millbrook Junior Company
Ibstone Infant Company
Amwaj Choir – Palestine
Al Farah Choir – Syria

Dalia Reviews

★★★★ "Dalia: tackling the refugee crisis and cricket, this community opera knocks them for six … Many will have had their first experience on stage, and many lives will have been changed as a result"
The Daily TelegraphJohn Allison

★★★★ "Sharp, embracing and affecting"
The Observer, Fiona Maddocks

"Magnificently well rehearsed both musically and dramatically. On-screen contributions from Al Farah Choir, Damascus and Amway Choir, Bethlehem and Hebron added to the emotional and cultural/social impact"
 Music Teacher Magazine, Clare Stevens

"Garsington’s education and community operation has many outstanding achievements to its name, but in pure performance terms none can have been more impressive than the two Garsington commissions by Roxana Panufnik and Jessica Duchen" 
Opera Now magazine, Andrew Green 

"Dalia’s creative team deliver some truly poignant moments, thanks in part to the luxury casting of the adult leads and Panufnik’s thoughtful deployment of Syrian musical styles. This especially comes to the fore in the heart-breaking lamentation sung to great effect by Merit Ariane as Dalia’s mother, Aisha ... Countertenor Andrew Watts gives a superb performance"
The Stage, Inge Kjemtrup

"These are characters we all know from our own lives and their roles are stunningly realised by the cast ... An achingly sensitive performance by Forbes-Dorant really takes us into the mind of the refugee"
London Unattached, Fiona Maclean

"Roxana Panufnik’s music is often beautiful, always colourful and makes aptly dramatic use of a wide range of orchestral sounds"
Lark Reviews, Susan Elkin

Dalia Previews

'The last word goes to Ella, from the Al-Farah Choir. “I am 12 years old, and I can see what is going on around the world. Anyone – you, me, everybody – could be Dalia. It’s the story of us, it’s our story, and the story must be sung"'
The Guardian

The Henley Standard

July 2022
Thursday 28 July
Saturday 30 July
Sunday 31 July
Start time: 
Thursday & Saturday 7.30pm, Sunday 3pm (matinee)