Considered one of the summits of Verdi's artistry, Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) is based on the 1836 play El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez.
Over 25 years since the opera was first staged in Egypt, once again the audiences will be taken to 15th century Spain during the civil war with its provinces, drama and pathos, passionate love and hatred, the enchanting music of Giuseppe Verdi and the wonderful arias.
Out of all Verdi's works, Aida is a recurrent opera performed in Egypt, often more than once in a season. In 1988, in the first season of the newly build Cairo Opera House building in Zamalek, Il Trovatore was staged by foreign musicians incorporating orchestra, choir and a number of soloists from Sofia, Bulgaria. Throughout the following years, arias from Il Trovatore were included in the many gala concerts by the Cairo Opera Company.
However, this is the first time for the Cairo Opera Orchestra, Cairo Opera Choir and a large number of singers from the Cairo Opera Company to work on the complete opera, in cooperation with soloists from Italy and Serbia on chosen evenings.
Director Hisham El-Tally is known to Egypt's music scene through his mis-en-scene of Mozart's Magic Flute and a number of smaller operas. This is the first time that he will explore Verdi.
"Il Trovatore is a very challenging opera in many aspects," El Tally explained to Ahram Online.
"Being a Romantic composer, Verdi needs grand scenography, great costumes and the visuals must parallel the richness of his music. Il Trovatore cannot be staged as a poor theatre, nether in an experimental manner, as this format would disappoint the audiences."
El-Tally explained that when two years ago he first suggested Il Trovatore to Iman Moustafa, director of the Cairo Opera Company, she was concerned about the feasibility of such a production. "But then she started listening to the music and, as always happens with the musician, Verdi's captivating score began haunting her," El-Tally explained.
After further discussions, Moustafa agreed to start working on the production and supported El-Tally in talking Ines Abdel Dayem, chairperson of the Cairo Opera House, to bless the budget needed for the production.
Verdi's score calls for the best voices and, according to El-Tally, Cairo Opera Company is capable of taking up the challenge and has the ability to make "their voices fit Verdi's demands. On some days our own talents will sing the main roles, on other days, we will have an opportunity to listen to the guest soloists."
With the many passages that thematically and musically intercalate and at times contradict one another, Il Trovatore is not an easy feat for the director, who must cope with the constant juggling of passion, joy, remorse and despair of the characters.
"Il Trovatore is about singing. I try to follow the soloists' lines and adjust the movement to the emotions, which can become quite tricky, especially when Verdi swiftly changes the colours. Yet isn't this the whole beauty of this score?" he says, inviting the audiences to experience this important landmark in the history of the Cairo Opera Company.
The opera will be performed on four evenings, between 14 and 17 May at the Cairo Opera House's main hall.
The Cairo Opera Orchestra and the Cairo Opera Choir will be conducted by David Crescenzi
14 and 16 May:
Manrico: Antonio Coriano
Count di luna: Moustafa Mohamed
Azucena: Jolie Faizy
Leonora: Iman Moustafa
Ferrando: Reda El Wakil
Ines: Marian Makram
Ruiz: Ossama Ali
An old gypsy: Ezzat Ghanem
A messenger: Ahmed Samy
15 and 17 May:
Manrico: Ragaa Eldin Ahmed
Count di luna: Valentino Salvini
Azucena: Hala El Shaboury
Leonora: Dragana Radakovic
Ferrando: Frano Lufi
Ines: Marwa Hassan
Ruiz: Moustafa Medhat
An old gypsy: Ezzat Ghanem
A messenger: Borhan Eldin Farouk