Cairo Opera House to celebrate Giuseppe Verdi

Ati Metwaly, Tuesday 22 Oct 2013

Opera House to commemorate Verdi's bicentennial anniversary with a variety of events during 2013-14 season

Villa Verdi
A still from 'Viva Villa Verdi', short film based on the photos from Verdi's villa located in the village of Sant'Agata

During a press conference at Cairo's Opera House Monday, Chair Ines Abdel Dayem announced a number of events to commemorate the bicentennial of Verdi's birth during the 2013-14 season.

Primarily known for his operas, the Italian Romantic composer Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born on 10 October 1813.

For Egypt, the date has additional historical significance. Cairo's Opera House was opened on 10 October 1988.

During the conference, Abdel-Dayem said: "For the Cairo Opera House, Verdi's year coincides with the Opera's silver jubilee."

Read more about the new Cairo Opera House's 25-year history here.

The conference was also attended by Maurizio Massari – Italian ambassador to Egypt, and a descendant of the Carrara-Verdi family,  as well as artist Sandro Vannini - author of 'Viva Villa Verdi,' a book that walks the viewer through the villa where Verdi lived, conductor Nayer Nagui and director Abdalla Saad.

press conference
The press conference held at the Cairo Opera House on 21 October 2013. From left: conductor Nayer Nagui; guest, descendant from Carrara-Verdi family; Ines Abdel-Dayem, chairperson of the Cairo Opera House; Maurizio Massari, Ambassador of Italy to Egypt; Sandro Vannini an artist and author of Viva Villa Verdi; Abdalla Saad, executive director of opera Aida, staged by the Cairo Opera Company. (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

A short film based on the book was screened, introducing attendees to Verdi's home life in the village of Sant'Agata where many important works by the composer saw the light.

Today, Verdi's villa, parts of which are open to visitors, is owned by the descendants of Maria Filomena Verdi, the composer's young cousin, whom Verdi and his wife took care of as their own daughter. Maria Filomena Verdi is the composer's heiress.

The Book Viva Villa Verdi by artist Sandro Vannini, with an introduction by renowned conductor Ricardo Muti, will remain on display at the Cairo Opera House until 27 October, as part of the exhibition dedicated to the composer.

The exhibition includes over 30 photographs of Verdi's private house in addition to copies of letters that the composer exchanged with several people, such as his assistant and the author of Aida's Libretto.

Following the Verdi exhibition at the Opera House, the collection of photographs will be displayed at the Italian Cultural Centre in Zamalek, Cairo.

Villa Verdi
A still from 'Viva Villa Verdi', short film based on the photos from Verdi's villa located in the village of Sant'Agata

The exhibition will be accompanied by performances of Opera Aida, staged at the main hall on 23, 24 and 27 October.

The opera is directed by the late Abdel-Moneim Kamel, with executive director Abdalla Saad, and includes artists from the Cairo Opera Company, Cairo Opera Orchestra conducted by Nayer Nagui, Cairo Opera Ballet Company with choreographer Erminia Kamel, Cairo Opera Choir and Acapella Choir led by Choirmaster Aldo Magnato.

Composed to the Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, and based on a story written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, commissioned by the Khedive Ismail Pasha, Aida was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871. Conductor Giovanni Bottesini led the opera and since then the Khedieval Opera House has served as the home for Aida performances in Egypt, hosting many international soloists and conductors.

Later on, the opera was also performed at the pyramids as a mega-production with over 1600 artists on stage (1987) against a backdrop of the Deir Al-Bahari Temple, Hatchepsut Temple in Luxor (1994-1997).

In 1998, the opera was moved to Cairo, and it was performed behind the pyramids and then at the Cairo Opera House, where it remained until 2009.

In 2010 Aida, once again, was held at the pyramids and performed at the Sound and Light Show location, with the pyramids and Sphinx as the backdrop. Subsequently, productions were held again inside Cairo’s Opera House.

According to Abdel-Dayem, musical celebratons of Verdi will not be limited to Aida. They will also include Verdi's Requiem, to be performed by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, and opera La Traviata, to be performed by the Cairo Opera Company. Dates of these events are yet to be announced.

Villa Verdi
A still from 'Viva Villa Verdi', short film based on the photos from Verdi's villa located in the village of Sant'Agata

22-27 October: Exhibition dedicated to Verdi at the Cairo Opera House, Zamalek.
Starting 27 October: The exhibition will be displayed at the Italian Cultural Centre, 3, El-Sheikf El-Marsafi Street (in front of Beano's cafe), Zamalek.
23, 24 and 27 October: Performances of opera Aida at the main hall of the Cairo Opera House.

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