Tunisian singer Saber al-Rebai has performed at several major music festivals in the Arab world and will perform at the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek on July 7th.
The concert will be al-Rebai's first-ever appearance at the Baalbek International Festival, one of the oldest and best-known cultural events in the region.
Al-Rebai recently received the Murex d'Or Award for Best Arab Singer, and his song "Aad Habaybak" won a Murex award for Best Arabic Song.
He told Al-Shorfa about the challenges he faces at Baalbek, what the festival means for him as a Tunisian and the song he prepared especially for the event.
Al-Shorfa: What does it mean for you to perform at Baalbek?
Saber al-Rebai: I am very pleased to be performing at a famous theatre like the one hosting the Baalbek International Festival. I am also happy the festival committee considered me worthy to stand on stage at Baalbek after I was chosen to sing at Carthage and the Olympia [music hall] in Paris, as well as Mawazine and Jerash.
Being selected to sing in Baalbek is a continuation of my experience singing at these ancient theatres. The invitation to sing came at the right time because Saber today has matured and has an archive of successful songs. Most importantly, Saber is a responsible [singer] and represents his country, Tunisia. I feel I deserve to sing at Baalbek and this day will be a historic one for me.
Al-Shorfa: How are you preparing for this historic event?
Al-Rebai: Intensive preparations are under way since I consider this a personal challenge. I am hoping to present an evening appropriate for Baalbek and that I can handle the responsibility given to me as a Tunisian artist.
Al-Shorfa: What will you sing at the festival?
Al-Rebai: I prepared a selection of top hits I performed during my career, especially between 2000 and 2012. The surprise will be a song especially made for Baalbek and a medley of songs by Lebanon's greatest singers including Fairuz, Sabah and Wadih el-Safi. This collection of songs was prepared by my friend, musician and maestro Elie Alya.
Al-Shorfa: After this experience, can we expect to see you performing onstage in a musical?
Al-Rebai: The brothers Farid and Maher Sabbagh had offered me a part in their musical, "Saladin el-Ayoubi", which was presented last summer at Baalbek. Unfortunately, it coincided with the events in Tunisia, prompting me to turn it down. People were being killed and friends of mine were injured in Tunisia's revolution. But I hope I will have another opportunity in the future.
Al-Shorfa: What are you working on now?
Al-Rebai: My duet project with the late great singer Warda al-Jazairia was interrupted, so I will perform this song in a way that will surprise my fans and I will sing it solo.