Kanye West is continuing his shift away from secular music and focusing his efforts on being a soldier of God. The rapper announced on Sunday that his latest effort is an opera called Nebuchadnezzar, which is set to open on November 24.
The opera will premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in California and will feature music by West’s Sunday Service from his Jesus is King album, as well as Peter Colins & Infinities Song. West announced the opera, which is named for the King of Babylon, on his Twitter account, with official artwork featuring an outline of Nebuchadnezzar on the all-gold poster, likely a nod to the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar.
The tweet also included the detail that West’s opera will be directed by the controversial performance artist Vanessa Beecroft. The Italian artist created Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf? in 2007, an exhibit that featured 30 Sudanese women laying face down on a canvas covered in fake blood, with the art installation representing the genocide in Darfur Sudan. Beecroft was also featured in the Sundance documentary The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins, which shows the artist trying to adopt two Sudanese orphans to use in an art exhibit, so the pairing with West is certainly an interesting one.
Invite artwork by Nick Knight pic.twitter.com/U7IBqe1Gxk
— ye (@kanyewest) November 17, 2019
West’s decision to focus his first opera on Nebuchadnezzar was hinted at earlier this month when he spoke with Apple Music’s Beats 1 host Zane Lowe about his Yeezus tour. “[God] is saying, ‘Let me take this Nebuchadnezzar-type character’—Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon—and he looked at his entire kingdom and said, I did this,” said West. “I stood on the top of the mountain talking about Yeezus, saying, ‘I’m a God’—I had a guy dressed as Jesus.”
West also talked about the ancient king’s mental health issues and related them to himself, with West diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016. “Nebuchadnezzar was diagnosed with bipolar disorder…and he was still king!”
West’s opera announcement wasn’t his only major news this weekend. The Chicago native also made an appearance at pastor Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas on Sunday morning. The service, which has an average attendance of 50,000 plus an estimated 10 million viewers streaming each week, included performances of West’s songs, including “Jesus Walks” and “Closed On Sunday” from his new album Jesus Is King.
CLOSED ON SUNDAY.
— Kanye Source (@KanyeSource) November 18, 2019
West also spent time on stage preaching alongside Osteen, with the musician remembering his time in the hospital following a breakdown during his 2016 Saint Pablo tour. “When I was in my lowest points, God was there with me and sending me visions and inspiring me, and I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a mental breakdown and there’s documentation of me drawing a church and [wanting to] start a church in the middle of Calabasas,” said West. “Because every time I stand up, I feel that I’m standing up and drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘I’m here in service to God and no weapon formed against me shall prosper,’” he said.
— Music News & Media (@RapWatchHD) November 17, 2019
Though Kanye has declared that he’s a servant of God now and ready to be “radically obedient” to a higher power, he also told the Lakewood crowd that “now the greatest artist that God has ever created is working for him” so he’s still very much his own hype man.
West’s wife Kim Kardashian was in the front row for the Lakewood service, with the couple also using their trip to Houston to continue Kardashian’s efforts with prison reform. According to People, West surprised inmates at the Harris County Jail with a performance on Friday while Kardashian met with death row inmate Rodney Reed, who had his execution suspended on Friday.