On Tuesday, the Cairo Opera House announced postponing all performances in an act of objection to the sacking of the opera house head Dr Ines Abdel Dayem. The artists and staff of the Cairo Opera House issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“We, the artists and staff of the Cairo Opera House, have decided to stop presenting the concerts and the performances affiliated to the Cairo Opera House across all its venues for three days, starting from Wednesday, 29 May until Friday, 30 May.
Concerts and performances will be resumed on Saturday, 1 June. In addition, Musician Omar Khairat decided to cancel all of his performances at the Cairo Opera House to protest Dr Ines Abdel Dayem’s dismissal.
Moreover, we adhere to the present administration of the Cairo Opera House as being a part of the achievements of the Egyptian Revolution, uniting with Dr Ines Abdel Dayem who was randomly fired from the presidency of the Cairo Opera House without giving any legal references and standing against a wise plan to destroy the Egyptian Culture and Fine Arts.”
For the first time in the history of the Cairo Opera House, the performance of Verdi’s opera Aida was cancelled. “Originally, [the cancellation of Opera Aida] was in solidarity with Dr Ines Abdel Dayem,” Nayer Nagi, director and principal conductor of the Cairo Opera Orchestra, said on Wednesday during an interview on ONTV. “The Cairo Opera House has been especially successful during the past period, and we see [the dismissal of Dr Abdel Dayem] as obstructing our work.”
The strike also coincided with a discussion in the Shura Council concerning the Cairo Opera House’s budget for foreign artistic companies. Even though the budget was decreased to EGP 5m, some members of the cultural committee objected, saying it should be reduced even more.
On Thursday, the Egyptian Creativity Front organised a protest in front of the opera house in Zamalek, where it demanded the resignation of Minister of Culture Dr Alaa Abdel Aziz and threatened to escalate the situation if its demand was not met.
On Friday, Nagui issued a statement on his Facebook page, saying, “There exists an enemy of intellect in Egypt which is not less dangerous than the Muslim Brotherhood, and it culminates in half-talented people who crave powerful positions.” He then encouraged people to unite, saying that the cancelling of a few shows will not affect them, but that Egypt will suffer without the “emanating light” of the Cairo Opera House.