Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Cairo Opera House Suspends Activities in Face of Military Coup
Wednesday, July 03, 2013 - 07:00 PM
As Egypt’s military ousted Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, the country's largest performing arts institution took steps to avoid being swept into chaos.
Citing security concerns, the Cairo Opera House announced it was suspending all activities until further notice, according to Ahram Online, the English-language website of Al Ahram, Egypt’s flagship newspaper. The suspension extends to all venues at the center, including a 1,300-seat main theater, a 500-seat recital hall and a 600-seat open-air theater.
In late May, the company's staff went on strike after Egypt's new culture minister, Alaa Abdel-Aziz, fired the opera house's director, Dr. Ines Abdel-Dayem. He also fired other major arts leaders in the country and began the process of replacing them with individuals who, according to his critics, were more in sympathy with the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and a conservative religious agenda.
Abdel-Aziz said he wanted to inject "new blood" into art and culture programs that were stagnant and corrupt.
The opera house now says it will keep its audience posted with updates about its programming.
The Cairo Opera House is home to the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, the Cairo Opera Orchestra and the Cairo Opera Company, as well as ensembles that present dance, theater and traditional Arab music. Supported by Egypt's Ministry of Culture, it is roughly analogous to Lincoln Center in New York or the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Last week, the opera house hosted the Whiffenpoofs, the Yale University glee club, for an evening of a cappella songs.