Cairo Opera House
- This article refers to the Cairo Opera House built in 1988. For its predecessor, see Khedivial Opera House
The Cairo Opera House (Arabic: دار الأوبرا المصرية; Dār el-Opera el-Masreyya; literally "Egyptian Opera House"), part of Cairo's National Cultural Center, is the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital. Home to most of Egypt's finest musical groups, it is located on the southern portion of Gezira Island in the Nile River, in the Zamalek district west of and near downtown Cairo.
The opera house was inaugurated on October 10, 1988. The funds for the complex were a gift from the nation of Japan to Egypt as a result of President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Japan in April 1983. Construction began in May 1985 and lasted for three years.
In October 1988, President Mubarak and Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the younger brother of the Japanese Emperor, inaugurated the National Cultural Centre Cairo Opera House. It was the first time for Japan to stage a Kabuki show, a traditional popular drama with singing and dancing, in Africa or the Arab World.
Khedivial Opera House
In 1869, Khedive Ismail gave instructions to build an opera house to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. It was called Khedivial (Royal) Opera House and was meant as a lasting and outstanding symbol of the arts of drama and music. Designed by Italian architects Avoscani and Rossi, the opera house was completed in six months, in the center of Cairo near the Azbakeya district.
The Khedive commissioned a performance which would reflect the ancient Egyptian history. French archaeologist Auguste Mariette Bey, in the Khedive’s service, wrote a plot which eventually served the respected Italian librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni as a basis for his libretto. Giuseppe Verdi was appointed to compose the music. The result was the famous opera, Aida, with its heroic quality, powerful dramatic scenes and its passionate music.
Because of delays caused by the Franco-Prussian war, the sets and costumes for the premiere of Aida could not be transported from Paris in time, and in 1869 the Opera House opened instead with Verdi's Rigoletto, one of Verdi's earlier masterpieces. Aida would receive its world premiere in Cairo in 1871. Contrary to general belief, Aida was not commissioned for the inauguration of the Suez Canal.
The Khedivial Opera House was the first on the African continent to perform world famous operas and symphonic masterpieces.
A little over a century later, in the early morning of October 28, 1971, the great Khedivial Royal Opera House was completely destroyed by a fire.
- Main Hall: Seats 1,300 people in its four levels, including orchestra seating, three tiers and a presidential box. Used for operas and orchestra and ballet performances
- Small Hall: Seats up to 500 people on a single floor; used for chamber music and recitals. Can double as a very large reception hall for important events.
- Open-air Theatre: Acoustically designed square shaped stage used for outdoor performances, seats 600 people.
- official Cairo Opera House website
- Cairo Opera House government website
- official Cairo Opera Orchestra website
- official Cairo Opera Ballet Company website
- Egyptian Cultural Center: Press release "Cairo Opera"