Preview: Zamalek eyeing revenge over depleted Ahly in Cairo derby    Messi nets 2, Barcelona beat Bilbao 4-0 to win Copa del Rey    Libya welcomes UN decision to deploy cease-fire monitors    Morocco's Ziyech fires Chelsea to win over Man City in FA Cup semi-final    France reports daily decline in COVID-19 patients in intensive care    Egypt to launch artistic Ramadan Nights Festival    MCDR to start board nomination procedures on Sunday    Sudan wants legally binding agreement on Ethiopia's Nile Dam, not war: Al-Burhan    Egyptian architects win UNESCO competition to rebuild Mosul's Al-Nouri Mosque    Tunisia closes schools until April 30 to slow spread of coronavirus    Egypt's Environment Minister witnesses closing of training on sanitary landfills    Egypt demands fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines    Egypt launches technical competence programme for Higher Education Ministry staff    'El-Malek' series resumes filming following outcry    Egypt's Cultural Development Fund begins Ramadan programme    Five people killed as police fire at protesting workers in Bangladesh    Egypt joins JPMorgan Chase government bond index watch list    Egypt, Pakistan may sign an MoU between Suez Canal Authority, Gwadar Port Authority    Funeral to praise Philip's 'courage' and support for queen    Egypt urges dissuading Ethiopia from taking unilateral action on GERD in letter to UNSC    Biden says Iranian enrichment to 60% unhelpful, but glad about talks    Sisi stresses to Djibouti president importance of reaching GERD settlement to avoid regional instability    We will resort to international community after all GERD negotiations finish: Egypt FM    President Sisi supports Eni expanding operations in Egypt    10 emerging writers receive $50,000 Whiting Awards    J.K. Rowling children's story 'The Christmas Pig' out in October    2 crew members of impounded Ever Given allowed to return home for personal emergencies: Suez Canal Authority    Egypt condemns continued attacks by Yemen's Houthi militias towards Saudi territory    Turkey to send delegation to Egypt in May, its foreign minister says    EFG Hermes determines fair value of Arab Investment Bank at EGP1.1bln    SODIC hires Hermes to study acquisition offer by Aldar Properties    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    Fans allowed at opening match of UEFA EURO 2020: Italy    Egypt halts traditional amateur football tournaments during Ramadan    Al Ahly get ready for fierce league clash against Zamalek    Egypt Press Syndicate condemns Health Ministry's alleged media obstruction    Egypt tourism minister discusses preparations for upcoming Arabian Travel Market with UAE    Egypt, Turkey eye new phase of bilateral relations    Egyptian farmers fearful as Ethiopia goes for 2nd Blue Nile dam filling    Party consensus    Russian FM says Egypt is main partner in Middle East, Africa    Egypt sees an uptick in new coronavirus infections registers 801 new cases on Saturday    PMI moves towards a smoke-free transformation, takes part in a webinar on e-cigarettes    Allianz Egypt partners with IGNITE to equip brand ambassadors for 2021 Olympics    Hassan Allam consortium wins contract to manage, operate Grand Egyptian Museum    Enhanced Labs signs Mr. Olympia 2020 "Big Ramy" And His Trainer Dennis James    King Tutankhamun funerary mask is must-see tourist icon: The Telegraph    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

A brief history of the Cairo Opera House
Published in Ahram Online on 11 - 10 - 2019

The history of the Cairo Opera goes back to the second half of the 19thcentury when the gem of architecture known as the Khedivial Opera House was inaugurated in the heart of Cairo.
Unfortunately in 1971 the opera burned down and it took 17 years for Cairo to have its new opera house. The new opera house was inaugurated on 10 October 1988.
While on 10 and 12 October, the Cairo Opera House celebrates its 31stanniversary, it is worth looking into some details of the three decades, a history which witnessed numerous developments of the opera as well as the many troupes that operate under its wings.
1869: Egypt's first Opera House officially opened during the reign of Khedive Ismail.
Designed by Italian architect Pietro Avoscani, the Khedivial Opera House was opened on the occasion of the inauguration of the Suez Canal.
The old opera house was located in the Azbakiya district in central Cairo.
28 October 1971: A fire tragically burned down the opera building completely.
1971 – 1988: Troupes which were housed by the Khedivial Opera House were relocated to the Gomhoriya Theatre situated near Abdeen Royal Palace. However their continuity was challenged by the lack of proper home.
The old Opera House in Azbakiya (Photo: Al Ahram archives)
1985: Egypt initiated a cooperation with Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build a newNational Cultural Centre which aimed, among many other activities, at serving as a theatre for operatic and symphonic performances. The centre was soon called the New Opera House.
1987-1988: Egypt's well-known ballerina, Magda Saleh, served as the first chairperson of the new opera house during its construction phase.
10 October 1988: The new opera house was inaugurated in 1988 by then-president Hosni Mubarak and Japan's Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the younger brother of the Japanese Emperor.
The Opera House's main hall is designed to seat 1300 spectators, lends its stage to symphonic concerts and performances; the small hall (350 seats) and open air theatre present recitals, light music concerts, cinema clubs, artistic salons and special performances.
The troupes which found their home at the new opera were: the Heritage Ensemble for Arab Music (whose history goes back to 1932), the Cairo Opera Company (established in 1952), the Cairo Opera Choir (established in 1956), the Cairo Symphony Orchestra (established in 1959), and the Abdel-Halim Noweira Ensemble for Arab Music (established in 1967).
Back then, the Cairo Ballet Company was an adjunct to the Academy of Arts.
1988-1990: Renowned opera singer Ratiba El-Hefny assumed the position of the chairperson overlooking the opera's opening and start up of actual activities.
1989: Newly formed troupes were added to the opera's artistic family: the National Arab Music Ensemble and the Cairo Opera House Children's Choir with Selim Sehab as conductor and artistic director.
1990-1991: Musician Tarek Ali Hassan took over the chair of the opera.
Paintings of the new Cairo Opera House consecutive directors decorate a corridor inside the building. Paintings from top left: late Ratiba El-Hefny (1988-1990), Tarek Ali Hassan (1990-1991), late Nasser El-Ansary (1991-1997), Moustafa Nagui (1997-2000), Samir Farag (2000-2004), late Abdel-Moneim Kamel (2004-2012), Ines Abdel-Dayem (2012-2018). The photos do not include Magda Saleh (1987-1988) and current chairperson Magdy Saber (2018-)
Early 1990s: The Cairo Ballet Company finally abandoned its previous status since 1966 as an adjunct to the Academy of Arts and was adopted by the Opera House, becoming the Cairo Opera Ballet Company.
1991: The famed Maurice Béjart (1927 – 2007) and his troupe performed a ballet titled Pyramide – El-Nour paying tribute to Egyptian history.
Tarek Ali Hassan also expanded the music library which by this time suffocated in a small room inside the building. Ali Hassan thus decided to add a new building to the opera grounds which would hold the musical scores, recordings and books. The project was resumed and finalised in 1994 by the subsequent director of the Opera House.
1991-1997: Nasser El-Ansary became chairperson director of the Opera House.
Internationally-celebrated names started being frequent visitor of the opera's stages: Ballet of Opera Varna and the Sofia International Opera (Bulgaria), the New Classical Ballet (Moscow), the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Renato Greco Contemporary Dance Company (Italy) and the Stockholm Youth Symphony Orchestra (Sweden) were among the first to visit the new opera's stage and perform to Egyptian audiences.
1992: The Cairo Opera Dance Theatre Company was launched, performing contemporary dance with Walid Aouni as choreographer and artistic director.
1994: The Cairo Opera Orchestra was founded, becoming the second national orchestra under the Cairo Opera's umbrella.
It is important to note that until that moment, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra had been performing a repertoire of symphonic, operatic and ballet shows. The establishment of the Cairo Opera Orchestra allowed it to assume the responsibility of the music for the operas and ballets, leaving the symphonic repertoire to the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
The Music Library at the Cairo Opera House grounds (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
1994: The Opera House brought to life the first mega production of opera Aida in Luxor, marking one of Nasser El-Ansary's most significant initiatives.
October 1997: The memorable Aida performance was staged against the backdrop of the Deir Al-Bahari Temple. A terrorist attack on tourists a month later, however, brought an end to opera performances in Luxor.
1997-2000: Moustafa Nagui, the new chairperson of the Cairo Opera moved Aida to the Pyramids in 1998, with alternations between the Giza plateau and the Cairo Opera House following the move.
2000-2004: General Samir Farag became the opera's chairperson.
Some activities began to vanish from the opera's schedule. The Cairo Symphony Orchestra no longer gave concerts at universities; the number of concerts tailored for young audiences severely diminished, while the television no longer broadcasted the many concerts and performances of Egyptian companies, limiting its coverage of the opera to sporadic highlights of select international troupes.
2004 – 2012: Renowned ballet dancer Abdel-Moneim Kamel became the opera's chairman.
The opera's budget allowed many international troupes to perform at the opera, while Kamel's large network of contacts in the field facilitated the exchange.
During his term, audiences could attend evenings with Seven Pianos, Zurich Ballet and Winterthur Orchestra (Switzerland), Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra (Turkey), National Academic Bolshoi Ballet (Belarus), Teatro Greco Dance (Italy) and many more.
Despite the countless flashy names that crossed the opera stage at the time, alleged administrative gaps were posing a challenge to the opera's link with the different social strata.
The 2011 Revolution changed the face of the Cairo Opera House.
Abdel-Moneim Kamel's annually-renewed contract ended in February 2012, when he was replaced by Ines Abdel-Dayem.
Cairo Opera House main hall (left) and lobby (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
2012-2018: Ines Abdel Dayem served as the opera's chairperson.
However her chairmanship was interrupted by her dismissal (May-July 2013) at the hands of former minister of culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz, appointed by then president Mohamed Morsi.
May-June 2013: Badr El-Zakaziky served as opera director under complicated circumstances: not only was June heralding the end of the opera season but also, and more importantly, those days were marked by a series of artists' protests and sit-ins against Abdel-Dayem's dismissal.
Abdel-Dayem was reinstated in July by the new minister of culture, Mohamed Saber Arab.
Post-revolution years were characterized by many changes within the Cairo Opera House. Among many issues, the smaller budget placed on numerous sectors of the opera no longer allows for the internationally renowned troupes to visit Egypt.
The Cairo Opera began depending on local artists in most of the performances, something that particularly affected the Cairo Opera Ballet Company which saw departure of several foreign dancers.
Despite the challenges and in many cases depending on its own resources, the troupes managed to give premieres to numerous operatic and ballet performances.
Opera also opened the doors to many independent bands and initiated operations with the Cairo-based international cultural centres and embassies hosting their guests on the opera's stages. Though this strategy opened doors to many new artists, it also meets criticism related to the quality of the performances and concerts staged at the opera's halls.
2018: Ines Abdel-Dayem was appointed the new minister of culture and the chairmanship of the opera is given to former ballet dancer Magdy Saberwho in many aspects continues to implement strategies set by Ines Abdel Dayem.
Celebrations of the Cairo Opera House's 31st anniversary on 10 October 2019. (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture

Clic here to read the story from its source.