Artists from the Cairo Opera House are currently preparing for a performance of Verdi’s Aida, which will be staged at the Egyptian Academy of Arts in Rome, Italy on 16 July.
The 34 artists and technicians have arrived to Rome yesterday and have been received by Heba Youssef, director of the academy, and the delegates from the Egyptian Embassy.
The performance of Aida at the academy aims to mark the 150th anniversary of the first staging of Verdi’s famed opera at the Khedivial (Old) Opera House in Cairo, on 24 December 1871.
The performance will be accompanied by an exhibition presenting the opera’s history through hundreds of photographs, stage designs, accessories, and costumes.
The current staging of Aida is directed by Hisham El-Tally, featuring well known Egyptian singers Iman Mostafa as Aida, bass-baritone Reda El-Wakil as Ramfis the high priest, mezzo–soprano Jolie Faizy as Amneris the daughter of the king, bass baritone Ezzat Ghanem as the king of Egypt, baritone Emad Adel as Amonasro the king of Ethiopia, among others.
The light designer Yasser Shaalan and scenographer Mohamed Abdel-Razek are also among the team.
Last May, the same cast has presented fragments from the famed love story between Ethiopian princess Aida and Egyptian hero Radames at the unique open-air setting of Al-Nafoura (Fountain) Theatre at the Cairo Opera House grounds.
This was the first time for Aida to be staged at an open-air location in the heart of Cairo. Previous open-air stagings of the opera took place either in Luxor or at the Giza Pyramids or were closed within the opera’s building.
Opera Aida has special thematic and historic significance in Egyptian culture and is one of the most popular operatic works performed in Egypt. It was composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni and is based on a story written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, commissioned by khedive Ismail Pasha.
Opera Aida was first performed in Cairo in 1871 followed by many stagings at the old Khedieval Opera House then the new Opera House. The famed performances also took place at Deir Al-Bahari Temple (Hatshepsut Temple) in Luxor in the 1990s, and in front of the Giza pyramids.
“The Egyptian Academy was founded in Rome in 1929. From a temporary location near the Coliseum, the academy later moved to its current location at the Valle Giulia — on the grounds of the Villa Borghese, where the most important foreign academies are located,” reads the academy’s presentation published by Rawi magazine.
“Today the Egyptian Academy in Rome stands as a beacon of Egyptian, Arab, and African art in Europe. After undergoing a large-scale renovation in 2008, the academy now includes residential quarters and studios for Egyptian art students in Italy, as well as a cinema and theatre, a library, and several exhibition areas.
It boasts an impressive collection of modern art and regularly hosts prominent Egyptian artists, intellectuals, and exhibitions such as the recreated tomb of Tutankhamun,” the brief continues.
In June 2020, Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem appointed Heba Mahmoud Youssef as the director of the Academy.
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture