Syria Opera House a Victim of Civil War

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News,World

The grand Opera House in Damascus was built to stage the best artists in the Arab world, but instead it lies dormant most of the year, falling victim to the bloody civil war that has engulfed Syria since 2011. (May 6)

SHOTLIST:

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Damascus, Syria - April 30, 2014

1. Wide of opera house in central Damascus and statue of former president Hafez Assad

2. Tight of statue

Damascus, Syria - May 4, 2014

3. Mid of music student performing

Damascus, Syria - April 30, 2014

4. Wide pan of opera house

5. SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director (Transcript Below)

Damascus, Syria - May 4, 2014

6. Mid of student with symphony orchestra conductor Missak Baghboudarian

7. SOUNDBITE (English) Missak Baghboudarian, Symphony Orchestra conductor (Transcript Below)

Damascus, Syria - April 30, 2014

8. Various of notice boards with obituary for music student Wessam Khawees who was killed by mortar blast

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director (Transcript Below)

10. Wide rubble on the street where mortars landed and exploded

11. Tight of rubble

12. Wide interior of opera house

13. Mid of opera house director Lama Sallouh walking between rows of seats

14. SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director (Transcript Below)

15. Wide of people leaving opera house

16. Tight of Syrian flag

Damascus, Syria - May 4, 2014

17. Mid of music students sitting on stairs

Damascus, Syria - April 30, 2014

18. Mid of security guard with sniffer dog

Damascus, Syria - May 4, 2014

19. SOUNDBITE (English) Missak Baghboudarian, Symphony Orchestra conductor (Transcript Below)

++SOUNDBITE PARTIALLY COVERED WITH B-ROLL++

20. Tight of music student singing

Damascus, Syria - April 30, 2014

21. Tight of damaged curb where mortar landed and exploded

Damascus, Syria - May 4, 2014

22. Various of student playing the harp

VOICE-OVER SCRIPT:

THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE IN DAMASCUS WAS BUILT TO STAGE THE BEST PLAYWRIGHTS AND CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMERS THE ARAB WORLD HAS TO OFFER.

IT NOW LIES EMPTY A MAJORITY OF THE YEAR, ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE BLOODY CIVIL WAR THAT HAS ENGULFED SYRIA SINCE 2011.

SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director:

"Well, in fact the war is affecting everybody and everything in the country. This is a fact that we cannot deny. But still we are working, trying at least to work in our very normal standards."

2.5 MILLION SYRIANS HAVE FLED THE COUNTRY.

SOUNDBITE (English) Missak Baghboudarian, Symphony Orchestra Conductor:

"We had some musicians leaving from the orchestra. They left the country, or some of them left Damascus."

AND PERFORMERS ARE AMONG THE 150,000 PEOPLE KILLED DURING THE CONFLICT.

SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director:

"A very bad feeling that you see your friends and your colleagues that you worked with them for ten years just dying in front of you."

THE OPERA COMPLEX HAS BEEN HIT SEVERAL TIMES BY REBEL MORTARS AND CAR BOMBS. IT IS SITUATED IN DOWNTOWN DAMASCUS NEXT TO THE DEFENSE MINISTRY.

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD AND HIS WIFE USED TO FREQUENT THE OPERA HOUSE, WHICH THEY OFFICIALLY OPENED IN 2004.

SOUNDBITE (English) Lama Sallouh, Opera House Director:

"Before the crisis they used to come twice or three times a month."

ASSAD DID MAKE ONE TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE OPERA HALL EARLIER THIS YEAR WHEN HE DELIVERED A DEFIANT SPEECH HOUR-LONG SPEECH.

DESPITE THE VIOLENCE, CONCERTS AND PLAYS HAVE CONTINUED, ALTHOUGH MORE SPORADICALLY WITH MUCH FEWER STAFF.

SOUNDBITE (English) Missak Baghboudarian, Symphony Orchestra Conductor:

"It's not easy to play when you hear every day (that) people are dying, children are losing their lives or we are hearing bombs on the opera house. We lost our colleagues, we lost friends. But we have to continue our life."

ACCORDING TO STATE MEDIA, TWO PEOPLE WERE KILLED ON SUNDAY WHEN A MORTAR FIRE STRUCK THE GROUNDS OF THE OPERA HOUSE.

MATTHEW BURGOYNE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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