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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 11 - 06 - 2009

Odysseus is back
The Cairo Opera House, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo, presented the hero of Troy, Odysseus, a dance opera, for four days in the Main Hall. The production was created and directed by Renato Greco, music by Dino Scuderi and choreography by Maria Teresa del Medico.
"The show was excellent, the dancers brilliant, the singers magnificent: it is undoubtedly Renato Greco's most impressive spectacle to date. At Cairo Opera's Main Hall Odysseus was loudly applauded, the audience's only gripe being that they wanted the show to stay on for a longer period of time," said the late Amal Choucri Catta in her review of the show in Al-Ahram Weekly on 31 May 2007.
The show that evoked brilliantly the trials of love, peace and war through the legendary actions turned prose in Homer's epics The Iliad and The Odyssey was incarnated by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, artistically directed by Erminia Kamel, and dazzled the audience. The principle dancers of the show were Hani Hassan, Zorab Mikeladze, Sahar Helmi and Valeria Ivleva, who is playing in this shot by Sherif Sonbol the role of Piniloppe, who will not marry until she finishes knitting. Every night she would undo the work of the day before, delaying her marriage until her true love, Odysseus, returns. The ballet also featured a bevy of operatic singers, including mezzo-soprano Hanan El-Guindi, and sopranos Dalia Farouk and Jacklin Rafiq.
The Egyptian-Indian Friendship Association (EIFA), headed by Alieddin Hilal, who is chairman of the National Democratic Party's Media Committee, organised a reception party at the Diplomatic Club in honour of the arrival of the new Indian Ambassador to Egypt, R Swaminathan, and his wife.
The reception was attended by an array of Egyptian and Indian diplomats, including former Egyptian ambassador to New Delhi Jilaan Allam, heads of press organisations, and EIFA board members, including Sawsan Attia and Jacoub Thoppil.
Ahmed Maher, former foreign minister, director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Abdel-Moneim Said, Al-Akhbar's senior columnist Maha Abdel-Fattah, director of the Indian Cultural Centre Suchitra Durai, and the wife of the former Egyptian ambassador to New Delhi Jehad Maadi, were also in attendance.
photos: Ayman Barayez
Italian Ambassador to Egypt Claudio Pacifico hosted a lavish reception at the Italian Embassy in Garden City on the occasion of celebrating the 63rd anniversary of Italy's National Day. The celebration honoured a galaxy of high-profile figures for their contributions in reinforcing the Egyptian-Italian relations. Among them were executive director of the Grand Egyptian Museum Mohamed Ghoneim, director of the Italian-Egyptian Friendship Association Adel Gazarin, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mahmoud Abu Zeid, as well as journalists and writers Iman Anwar and Sonia Dabous. Among 1,500 guests the celebration was crowned by the presence of Minister of Housing Ahmed El-Maghrabi, Minister of Higher Education and State for Scientific Research Hani Hilal, and Minister of State for Family and Population Mushira Khattab.
The Egyptian Society for Diabetes Care (ESDC), presided over by Laila El-Sioufi, held a press conference at the Greater Cairo Library in Zamalek on the occasion of launching a detection unit for diabetic foot problems. It discussed the importance of early diagnosis of diabetes to avoid complications for patients. The event was hosted by the ESDC with the participation of Cairo Rotary Club (CRC) and the Belgium Kiwanis Club funding the new project. Head of the Diabetes Unit at Alexandria University Samir Asaad, head of CRC Daniel Loro, Deputy President of ESDC Azza Shaltout, Manal Nour on behalf of Mohamed Rabie, chairman of vaccine and biological products company VACSERA, as well as CRC members Paul Antaki and Omar Qabani, were all present at the press conference.
The Mansour Foundation for Development, founded by Youssef Mansour, in cooperation with the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, headed by Iman Bibars, held a prestigious celebration at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel under the title "Our Responsibility for a Better Future... Cooperation Between the Private Sector and the Civil Society". Among the attendees were Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Kaoru Ishikawa, Minister of State for Family and Population Mushira Khattab, former prime minister Abdel-Aziz Hegazi, Al-Ahram back page editor Mona Ragab and Afkar El-Kharadli, editor-in-chief of Nisf Al-Donia magazine.
photos: Abdel-Hamid Eid
A thrilling celebration was held at the Conrad Hotel for the Middle East Music Awards 2008. Awards were handed out by Music Syndicate Chairman Mounir El-Wessemi to singers Hani Shaker, Latifa, Tamer Hosni, Samo Zein and Hossam Habib, Lebanese actress and singer Serene Abdel-Nour and budding singer Miriam Atallah, music composer Mohamed Yehia and music distributor Tamim. The celebration honoured former director of the Cairo Opera House Mustafa Nagui and veteran pianist Omar Khayrat.
The eighth round of the Mawazine World Rhythms Festival that took place in Rabat, Morocco, honoured veteran Algerian singer Warda after she featured in a thrilling concert. Talented Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab also performed in the concert, singing a number of her highly sought-after songs. Warda and Abdel-Wahab wore traditional Moroccan gowns during the festival that was attended by large crowds and a number of Arab singers.
A seminar was held at the Arab Open University hosting Syrian veteran actor Gamal Suleiman as part of the activities of the Islamic Design House sponsoring artistic events in the university. The seminar was presided over by university Vice-President Heba Badreddin who asked Suleiman about the difficulties he faced at the beginning of his acting career. University Deputy Chairman Walid Hosni handed Suleiman the recognition shield of the university at the end of the seminar well attended by university students.
The American University in Cairo (AUC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) supporting the graduates of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership Certificate (WEL) programme. The programme is offered by AUC and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania as part of Goldman Sachs' global 10,000 Women Initiative and aims at providing 10,000 worthy women with a business and management education.
The signing ceremony, which coincides with the graduation of the second and third groups of the WEL programme, was attended by AUC President David Arnold, Provost Lisa Anderson and Maha El-Shinnawi, director of the Women's Entrepreneurship and Leadership Centre at AUC, in addition to Hanaa El-Hilali, director-general of the International Cooperation and Planning Group of the SFD.
Through the memorandum of understanding, the SFD will support the WEL Centre, through its regional offices, in marketing and promotion of the certificate programme among NGOs and associations within their regional outreach and in recommending and recruiting potential candidates. It will also grant WEL graduates small and micro credit loans up to LE2 million each, and facilitate the process of acquiring loans, assuming credit standards are met and the intent of the loan is consistent with SFD policy and objectives. AUC, according to the memorandum, will be responsible for educating 500 women and providing them with WEL certificates over the next five years.
The Zamalek Art Gallery has announced that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, universally recognised as one of the leading museums in the world, has acquired one of the masterworks of veteran Egyptian painter Gazbia Sirry to be part of its permanent collection. The painting is entitled "The Kite" (oil on canvas, 95x51cm, 1960). The acquisition confirms Sirry 's importance in contemporary Egyptian art and is a prestigious acknowledgment of the renowned artist's 60-year career.

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