The Sahel Opera opens Manifesta 12

Sahel Opera

The Sahel Opera is back! Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera (abridged version) will open Manifesta 12 in Palermo on 15 June 2018.

What's the story?

The story is a familiar one in West Africa: Young people in a village with no job prospects, drought, and a failing harvest encounter a human smuggler who offers them the dream of a better life across the barbed wire that marks the border of North Africa and the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

This time the story is told – or rather sung – from an African point of view, and within the context of exploring a Borderless society. It’s a story with humour, poetry and passion.   

Performance at Manifesta 12 

Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera is an opera made and produced in Africa. It premiered in Africa and Europe in 2007/2008, initiated by the Prince Claus Fund. It is restaged for Manifesta 12 Palermo in Teatro Massimo with the addition of local elements including: a local choir composed of African singers trained by the local conservatorium.

Manifesta 12 has commissioned Wasis Diop to reinvent the opera for today’s still timely Palermo – and today’s Europe – in a new format.

Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera takes place on June 15 and16, 2018 at Teatro Massimo, Palermo. 

Please note this event is by invitation only

Sahel Opera Book 

The Prince Claus Fund produced a unique book about the making-of the opera with libretto and beautiful images of the original production. Please contact the Prince Claus Fund for details on how to purchase your copy: [email protected] 

About Manifesta

Manifesta is the European Nomadic Biennial, held in a different host city every two years. It is a major international art event, attracting visitors from all over the world. Manifesta is the go-to place for discovering emerging artists, thought-provoking ideas, new artworks especially commissioned for the event, and creative experiences in dialogue with spectacular locations of each host city.

For further details, or to learn more about additional activities at Manifesta with our laureates and partners like Jelili Atiku (Prince Claus Laureate) and Chimurenga (Principal Prince Claus Laureate) please visit 


The original opera was made possible through a collaboration of the Prince Claus Fund, with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, the Republic of Mali, the Ford Foundation (USA) and the vandenEnde Foundation (Netherlands).

This abridged version has been made possible by Stichting Doen, The Netherlands, DutchCulture, Prince Claus Fund, European Cultural Foundation and Manifesta Foundation. Teatro Massimo is the production partner and generous host for this incredible performance.