Thursday 22 September saw the Cairo Opera House launch its new season 2016 / 2017 with an unforgettable gala concert at the Main Hall. More than 300 artists from the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, the Cairo Opera Choir and the Cairo Opera Orchestra conducted by David Crescenzi, participated in the concert, enthralling the audience with their fine performance.
The evening which was directed by Abdalla Saad, featured various scenes from the most important ballets and concerts that this Cairo Opera season will present. Saad masterfully brought together all the elements of the evening, creating an ebullient mood.
Living through the audience
The legendary tenor Hassan Kami, one of the pioneers of opera singing in Egypt, delivered a warm opening speech in which he stressed that a musical artist “lives through his audience”.
Mr Kami said he had started his opera-singing career in 1963 and that now, more than half -a-century later, he is with his students and fellow artists reaping the fruit of the good seed they planted back then. He proudly referred to the Cairo Opera House’s progress and expansion over the past years. He said that today, 14 companies affiliated to the Cairo Opera perform musical arts on seven theatres in Cairo, Alexandria, and Damanhour. “This constitutes a vibrant, dynamic wealth of musical activity that Egypt alone in the Arab region can boast of,” he said.
The show then began. The curtain lifted to reveal a skeletal model of the Cairo Opera House on stage. Around it were posters of the main shows the season will offer. This impressive work was the design of Mahmoud Haggag, and the dazzling lighting was engineered by Yasser Shaalan.
Foretaste of what’s to come
A scene from Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah started the concert; Valentin Barts choreography brought out the ballet dancers’ grace and harmony in movement.
Arias from the most famous classical operas followed. Soprano Iman Mostafa and Bass-Baritone Reda al-Wakil took the audience’s breath away with Mostafa’s performance of In quelle trine morbide from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, followed by Wakil’s depiction of Come dal ciel precipita from Verdi’s Macbeth, and Le Veau d’Or from Gounod’s Faust. The masterful performance of Baritone Mostafa Mohamed Toreador’s aria from Bizet’s Carmen was among the evening’s highlights. Mezzo Soprano Jolie Faizy and Sopranos Dalia Farouk and Rasha Talaat kept the audience on their toes with the freshness and strength of their voices. Faizy performed Chanson Bohème from Bizet’s Carmen, Farouk sang a fresh Ah je veux vivre from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette, and Talaat reached new heights with a vibrant The kiss Waltz song by Arditi.
The Cairo Ballet Company then presented a scene from Borodin’s the Prince Igor. Soprano Iman Mostafa and Tenor Hisham al-Guinidi performed a duet of Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia from Madame Butterfly by Puccini, followed by Soprano Mona Rafla’s moving performance of Ebben! Ne andrò lontana from Catalini’s La Wally.
The concert ended on a high note when all the soloists joined Baritone Elhamy Amin, Tenor Ibrahim Nagui and Bass-Baritone Abdel-Wahab al-Sayed in singing an Arabic version of a scene from The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar. The audience got so carried away that they chimed in with the soloists.
The Cairo Opera’s Erminia Kamel choreographed the ballets that accompanied the singing performances, and which were presented by the Cairo Ballet Company.
Comeback for the internationals
This Cairo Opera House’s upcoming season promises a plethora of pleasant surprises, especially that many international companies which had not come to Egypt since the Arab Spring turmoil in 2011 are coming back. We can expectantly await performances by Bolshoi Belarus, Antonio Gaddis, Flamenco de Madrid, Quadro Nuevo, and Bollywood India, in addition to other performances by international soloists and composers. This in addition to shows by Egyptian companies and soloists, as well as theatrical modern dancing groups. The Cairo Opera’s seven theatres in Cairo, Alexandria, and Damanhour will buzz with excitement as eager spectators converge on them to indulge in experience of fine musical art.
26 September 2016