The Cairo Opera House is also known as the Egyptian Opera House in Arabic, and it is essentially a part of Cairo’s Nation Culture Center. It is located on a small island in the Nile River known as Gezira Island which is a little to the west of downtown Cairo. It is without question Cairo’s premier venue for the performing arts, and the go-to place for most of Egypt’s top musical groups and other performing artists.
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit Egypt, you can be almost certain that some or other event will be taking place at the Cairo Opera House while you are there. The Main Hall has a 1,200 seat capacity, with seating spread out over 4 levels as well as a presidential box. The hall is used almost exclusively for opera performances; orchestral performances, and ballet performances.
In addition to the Main Hall, the Cairo Opera House also has a Small Hall which can accommodate up to 500 people. Unlike the Main Hall which has multiple floors, the Small Hall only has a single floor. This smaller hall is typically used as a chamber for music and for recital, although it is also sometimes used as a large and spacious reception hall for hosting a variety of important events.
Cairo Opera House – A Brief History
The Cairo Opera House is a relatively young venue if compared to some opera houses around the world, given that it only opened in 1988. The money that was required for building the Cairo Opera House came in the form of a gift from Japan, shortly after President Hosni Mubarak visited the Japanese nation in 1983.
In 1985, building work began, and the Cairo Opera House as it stands today, was completed three years later in 1988. In October of the same year, President Hosni Mubarak inaugurated the Opera House, along with the younger brother of the Emperor of Japan, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa. This also the first time in history that Japan staged a traditional Kabuki show anywhere in Africa and/or the Middle East. A Kabuki show is a tradition singing and dance drama.
In 2007, the Cairo Opera House was also by the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for their first ever performance in Egypt and the Middle East.
Khedivial Opera House aka the Royal Opera House
Prior to the current Cairo Opera House being built, the city’s main opera house was called the Khedivial Opera House, and was also known as the Royal Opera House. In 1869, Khedive Ismail, who was also known as Ismail the Magnificent, ordered an opera house to be built in order to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.
Six months after the order had been given, the Royal Opera House completed, and the first performance was meant the famous opera, Aida. However, this wasn’t possible due to interruptions caused by the Franco-Prussian war. Aida eventually premiered in Egypt in 1871, and quickly became one of the most highly regarded operas ever.
The Royal Opera House was also the very first venue on the African continent to host world-class symphonic masterpieces and famous operas. Unfortunately, the Khedivial Opera House was completely destroyed by a fire early in the morning on the 28th of October, 1971.
Luckily for those who appreciate the fine arts, the Cairo Opera House has proven to be a far superior venue which continues to attract many of the world’s finest artists.
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