Kanye West Debuted His First Ever Opera ‘Nebuchadnezzar,’ starring Sheck Wes

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Kanye West performs at the Rn. 1st Annual Roc City Classic Starring Kevin Durant x Kanye West on February 12, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Roc Nation) *** Local Caption *** Kanye West

Kanye West played the part of narrator during Nebuchadnezzar.

Kanye West held Nebuchadnezzar, his debut opera on Sunday afternoon at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl.

Considering that this is the first time Kanye has ever held an opera, there was a lot of anticipation about what this would actually be. It turns out it out was an actual opera, telling the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s “transition from wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith.”

According to reports, Kanye West mostly played the sidelines and his Sunday Service choir took front and center. This was a subtle difference to how Sunday Service usually works — where the choir takes center stage but Kanye is still actively involved with the performance.

The big surprise is that rapper Sheck Wes was the star on stage, while Kanye was off stage, acting as an offstage narrator, reading from the Book of Daniel. The opera, which was directed by longtime collaborator Vanessa Beecroft,  also featured singer Peter Collins and the music group Infinity’s Song.

USA Today, who was in attendance, described the show like this:

West stood stage right and emphatically narrated, from his annotated Book of Daniel, the story of the Babylonian king who went from being wicked to finding salvation; with emphasis on dreams, a fiery furnace and the worship of a golden image. Singers and dancers in all-white robes (save for the role of Nebuchadnezzar, who writhed and sang in blue) sat above and moved below a wooden ramp at the center of the Hollywood Bowl.

READ: Kanye West’s Sunday Service — a Religious Experience or a Celebrity Cult?

According to Pitchfork, a majority of the music played during the opera was “new and unfamiliar,” even though music from his catalog was sprinkled throughout the performance (alongside Shek Wes’ “Mo Bamba.”)

Before the show, Kanye tweeted out the setlist. He also sent out a behind the scenes photo, featuring Chance the Rapper, and highlighted the passages he would be reading from:


READ: Jesus is King: Kanye West’s Religious Journey Isn’t For Anyone But Himself

According to USA Today. The show was supposed to start at 4:00 p.m. PST but actually began at 6:14. “We want Kanye” chants could be heard in the crowd. The venue fits about 17,500 people, and, according to USA Today, it was mostly full. However, it didn’t seem like a huge ticket seller. According to USA Today, tickets that were $150 dropped down to $60. By the day of the performance, you could still nab a seat for $20 on Ticketmaster.

Tidal streamed the performance. Check it out below.

It’s been exactly one month since Kanye West released his gospel album, Jesus is King.  West has since teased a followup, with Dr. Dre maybe being involved.

Source: USA Today, Pitchfork

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