Dozens of artists strike instead of performing Verdi's Aida, angered by sacking of opera house head
Disgruntled artists staged a protest on Tuesday outside the Cairo Opera House in Zamalek, condemning the culture minister's decision earlier in the day to sack head of the opera house, Ines Abdel-Dayem.
With car-drivers honking in support, the artists chanted against the ministerial decision, as well as against the minister himself. Alaa Abdel-Aziz was appointed culture minister earlier this month as part of the cabinet reshuffle, and artists responded with concerns about the Brotherhood-affiliated minister.
Later in the evening, the audience in the Main Hall of the Cairo Opera House, expecting to watch Verdi's Aida on its closing night, were taken by surprise when the curtains opened to reveal not a performance, but a protest.
The on-stage strike, conducted by principal conductor and artistic director of the Cairo Opera Orchestra Nayer Nagui, was joined by a large number of artists representing the different companies operation under the Cairo Opera House: the Cairo Opera Company, the Cairo Opera Orchestra, Cairo Opera Ballet Company, the Cairo Opera Choir and the A Capella Choir. More than 300 artists stood on stage holding protest signs.
Abdel-Dayem is the third senior official within the culture ministry to be sacked since the minister took office three weeks ago.
Her dismissal follows that of Ahmed Mujahid, head of the Egyptian General Book Authority, and Salah El-Meligy, head of the Fine Arts Sector.