The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA), Egypt’s modern-day emulation of the ancient Library of Alexandria, has issued a statement that it has signed a contract with the inheritors of opera singer Hassan Kamy who passed away at 82 on 14 December 2018, pledging to buy the book, manuscript, and painting collection that had belonged to him. Mr Kamy was owner of the bookstore L’Orientalist in Downtown Cairo, which housed an extensive collection of books, rare publications, manuscripts, and paintings. He had a passion for books and rare items, and collected a trove of them, spending much of his time at L’Orientalist.
Mr Kamy’s death brought on public fears over the fate of his bookstore, especially after his lawyer claimed that the opera singer had sold him his bookstore and villa, a claim that was promptly denied by the Kamy family and legal inheritors.
The BA statement said that once Mr Kamy’s inheritors legally got possession of L’Orientalist, an inventory would be made of the contents, and the inheritors would decide which items would be gifted to the BA and which would be sold at an agreed price. The legal inheritors expressed their desire to keep the contents of the bookstore in service of the public through that deal.
Hassan Kamy was born in Cairo in 1936, studied in Cairo and Italy, and began his singing career in 1963 as Redames in Verdi’s Aida, on the stage of Cairo’s Opera House.
He went on to become an iconic tenor, performing in some 240 operas around the world, and earning local and international acclaim.
Mr Kamy was also an actor and savvy businessman in the tourism business. He was owner and manager of Cairo’s L’Orientalist bookshop, a small space filled with old and rare books, maps and photographs. His wife, Nagwa Kamy, was among the important figures at L’Orientalist; her sudden death in 2012 devastated him.
25 December 2018