CAIRO: Aida, Giuseppe Verdi’s 1871 opera masterpiece, will be performed Dec. 16 in its original setting, the foot of the Giza Pyramids, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou announced in a press conference Wednesday.
“The event represents a message of assurance from the Egyptian people to the whole world that security in Egypt has been restored after three years of political turmoil,” Zaazou said.
In preparation for the tourism high season (October–April), the event is an attempt to revive the tourism sector, ailing since the January 25 Revolution with its subsequent violence and deadly clashes.
Egypt depends on tourism for 20 percent of its hard currency and the losses in the sector since the January 25 Revolution are estimated at $6.8 billion, according to the Tourism Ministry.
According to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, tourist activity comprises 11.3 percent of Egypt’s GDP.
“The Aida Opera this year will feature more than 1,000 artists, prominent choirs and an orchestra,” Zaazou added.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt decreased by 23.7 percent in June 2014 compared with June 2010, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Egypt’s official statistical agency.
The opera is based on a scenario attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, and Verdi (1813-1901) wrote Aida in four months. Its premier was performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on Dec. 24, 1871.
It tells the story of the tragic love between the daughter of the King of Ethiopia and an Egyptian warrior.
In 1998, the annual performance of Aida was moved to the Giza Pyramids from what had become its traditional home at the foot of Luxor’s Dier el-Bahary temple. The move came a year after 58 tourists were killed at the temple by militants.
In 2001, another Aida performance was cancelled due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.