Egypt: Tourist Authority - AIDA at the Pyramids

Press Release
Egypts Minister of Tourism
Egypt Update

May 25, 1998

AIDA at the Pyramids

On the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the new Cairo Opera House, Egypt's Ministry of Culture will host the favorite Opera Aida in Cairo, at the Pyramids of Giza on October 12-17, 1998.

Giussepe Verdi was inspired to write Aida by the wonder of Ancient Egypt, its magnificent pyramids and temples, and its rich heritage. Verdi was commissioned by Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt and a great patron of the arts, to write an opera for the 1869 inauguration of the 1000 seat Theatre de l'opera that he had built in Cairo.

It is on the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the new Cairo Opera House that Aida is to be performed in its original setting, at the foot of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Standing on the threshold of the millennium, it is occasion to strive for higher achievements in an ambitious setting as that of the Great Pyramids. We take Aida back to Cairo, its first audience, for the world to see what inspired Verdi, where Verdi had imagined the operatic tale to start, and for whom it was originally written.

The story was inspired by the eminent French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, who the Khedive later appointed to supervise its sets and costumes. Camille du Locle, director of Theatre de l'Opera Comique in Paris, took Mariette's draft of the story in French and conveyed it to Verdi, who translated it into Italian poetry.

Verdi wrote Aida in four months but its premiere was delayed. Mariette, as well as the sets and costumes, were unable to get out of France in time for the inauguration due to the outbreak of the Pranco-Prussian war, and it was Verdi's Rigoletto that inaugurated the Opera House on November 1, 1869. However, as its world premiere in Cairo on December 24th 1871, Aida was a sensational success. It received a triumphant reception at its premiere that has made it a favorite here in Cairo ever since, as it also does throughout the world to this day.

Giussepe Verdi (1813-1901) was one of the greatest composers of the 19th century. He achieved considerable artistic and financial success in his lifetime as well as serving as a deputy in the Italian Parliament for a period of time. Verdi composed 31 operas, the most famous of which are Aida, Falstaff, Otello as well as La Traviata and Il Trovatore.