Afghan Arts Festival Leads Slate of Winter Events at Seattle Opera

Learn more about the lineup here!

By: Jan. 31, 2023
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Afghan Arts Festival Leads Slate of Winter Events at Seattle Opera

In conjunction with its upcoming world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Seattle Opera offers a slate of unique educational and cultural events to celebrate Afghan art, culture, and history, and provide a deeper look into the making of a new opera.

First up is Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts, a cultural festival highlighting the remarkable achievements of Afghan artists. The lineup of events on Saturday, February 11, includes a concert by world-renowned rubab player Homayoun Sakhi, an exhibition of rescued artworks by the artist-activist group ArtLords, the unveiling of an embroidery project created by local Afghan women in partnership with Refugee Artisan Initiative, and a presentation by film director and A Thousand Splendid Suns stage director, Roya Sadat. The event will also feature opportunities to support local Afghan artists and refugees through financial and supply donations.

Jashin offers northwest audiences the chance to learn more about Afghan culture and engage with a community that has recently resettled in western Washington. "Since the American withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, Washington state has welcomed thousands of Afghan refugees who worked and fought alongside Americans during the decades-long conflict with the Taliban," said Lokela Alexander Minami, associate director of community engagement. "Despite this, the American public knows little about Afghanistan's rich and diverse culture. Jashin offers an opportunity to celebrate this culture, and we hope our audiences will come away with an appreciation of contemporary Afghan music and art, as well as an understanding of how they can help support our new Afghan neighbors."

Other events connected to A Thousand Splendid Suns include an Opera Talk with the creators of the opera, a film screening of director Roya Sadat's A Letter to the President, a special Community Conversation on International Women's Day, and a recital from cast member John Moore.

Beyond A Thousand Splendid Suns, the winter also features engaging opportunities for opera fans of all ages, including Kamala Sankaram and Kelley Rourke's The Jungle Book, a retelling of the classic story performed by Seattle Opera's youth program participants. In March, School Opera Tour returns with Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, a charming production coming to 50 schools across Washington State, in addition to public performances in June. And finally, on April 4, local favorites Martin Bakari and Ellaina Lewis team up with Tacoma pianist Joe Williams for a recital program featuring musical settings of Paul Lawrence Dunbar's poetry.

The Jungle Book

February 3-5, The Opera Center
Join Seattle Opera and our talented cast of youth performers for the Youth Opera Project production of The Jungle Book. This unique take on the familiar tale is based on both Eastern and Western classical music traditions and focuses on how the wolf pack welcomes Mowgli into their fold in a beautiful story of compassion, justice, and forgiveness. Tickets and info at Availability is limited.

Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts

Saturday, February 11, from 1:00-5:30 PM, The Opera Center

Spend your afternoon at the Opera Center and experience a cultural festival celebrating Afghan history, culture, and arts. Info and RSVP at

A Letter to the President film screening

Sunday, February 12, at 1:00 PM, SIFF Film Center

Presented in partnership with SIFF, A Letter to the President is the second feature film by Afghan film producer, director, and A Thousand Splendid Suns director, Roya Sadat. Called a "righteously compelling feminist drama" by Variety, the film was Afghanistan's entry for Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars. Includes post-film Q&A with director Roya Sadat. Tickets and info at

Opera Talk: The Creators Behind A Thousand Splendid Suns

Friday, February 24, at 7:00 PM, The Opera Center

Hear from the team of creatives who took on the challenge of adapting Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel for the opera stage: composer Sheila Silver, librettist Stephen Kitsakos, conductor Viswa Subbaraman, and stage director Roya Sadat. Info and RSVP at

John Moore in Recital

Thursday, March 2, at 7:30 PM, The Opera Center
Fresh off his debut as Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns, John Moore has prepared a special recital program to highlight his "smooth, suave high baritone and exceptionally handsome stage presence" (OperaWire). Tickets and info at

School Opera Tour: Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World

Touring March-May 2023; public performances June 25, The Opera Center
The School Opera Tour is back! This spring, our cast of professional performers brings this charming story of beauty and bravery to 50 schools across Washington State. More info at for school tours and for public performances.

Community Conversation: Celebrating Afghan Women's Resilience

Wednesday, March 8, at 7:00 PM, The Opera Center

In this special International Women's Day event co-hosted by Refugee Women's Alliance and Refugee Artisan Initiative, learn more about the vital work being done in our community to support local Afghan women refugees and women still living in Afghanistan. Info and RSVP at

Women in Opera webinar

Every Wednesday March 29-May 3 (6 sessions), from 2-3 PM, online
Join Judy Tsou, UW Head Music Librarian Emeritus, as she illuminates women's involvement in opera as creators, directors, and conductors and scrutinizes opera's often troubling treatment of women as characters. Info and registration at

Recital: "From His Heart's Deep Core"

Tuesday, April 4, at 7:30 PM, The Opera Center

Seattle Opera favorites Martin Bakari (The Marriage of Figaro) and Ellaina Lewis (Blue) team up with Tacoma pianist Joe Williams for a special night of opera, classical art song, and jazz. The program will feature music from Richard Thompson and other African American composers, with settings of Paul Lawrence Dunbar's poetry, which has resonated with and inspired artists for generations across many musical genres. Tickets and info at