Tony Small

Tony Small

Performance forces:
2 sop, mez, 2 alto, 2 ten, bar, bass — orchestra, incl oud — chorus


English, Arabic

This timeless tale began when two young folk musicians from two different countries met and became great friends at the Oman Festival. Ahmed SURNANI is from Quriyat, Oman. Mombasa is from Zanzibar, East Africa. For many years the two friends make their annual pilgrimage to the Muscat festival to celebrate, perform and learn about music and cultures from all over the world — even after they marry and each has a male child. SURNANI is the real surname for fishermen in Quriyat, and Mombasa affectionately introduces Ahmed at the festival as SURNANI; it remains his stage name that ONLY Omani continues to call him — in private. In 2007, Mombasa brings his wife and son for their first visit to Oman and to meet Surnani’s family. As they drive from Muscat to Quriyat, they are hurled into the Cyclonic Storm (Ganu); one of the worst storms recorded in Oman’s history (an actual occurrence in 2007). Only Surnani and Mombasa’s son, OMANI, survive the fatal car accident. Mombasa had already named his son Omani in honor of his best friend Surnani and the Omani people. Mombasa’s dying request was that Surnani raise Omani as his own and in memory of Surnani’s own son who also died in the “GANU accident.” Most importantly, Mombasa requested that when Omani comes of age, Surnani teaches him the cultural traditions of Zanzibar. But that’s not where the opera begins……we don’t hear that part of the tale until much later.