The National Cultural Center is proud of the fact that its theatres are equipped with the most advanced facilities not only in the Middle East but in the whole of the African continent.
Consequently, the main focus is on opening up new prospects in the region by introducing cultures and arts from all over the world to its theatres and improving the efficiency of its performing companies.
Preserving and renewing the Arabic music heritage without changing the traditional rhythm created by both Egyptian and Arab composers is an important task. Therefore, in 1967 the now deceased conductor Abdel Halim Nowera founded the Arab Music Company.
It consists of 50 talented singers and 40 musicians performing different styles of Arab music such as Mowashah, Taktoka, and theatrical music. Abroad, the company performed in different Arab countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait, as well as in countries like France, Spain and Turkey.
The company also participated in such music festivals as Carthage in Tunisia, Asilan and El Rabat in Morocco or the Umm Kulthum Centennial Celebration in Paris.
The Tunisian President awarded the company a medal of arts for its outstanding efforts in preserving the Arab music heritage.
Abdel Halim Nowera was the director of the company until his demise in 1985 and the company was renamed “Abdel Halim Nowera Ensemble for Arab Music” as an appreciation of his efforts in preserving the Arab heritage.×
The Cairo Opera Ballet Company was established in 1966 and associated to the Higher Ballet Institute (Academy of Arts). The company's members were coached by Soviet experts. The first production was The Fountain of Bakchisaray directed by Leonid Labrovsky (former director of the Bolshoy Theatre).
The Ballet Company added other great classical ballets to its repertoire, among them Giselle, Nutcracker, Pakhita, Swan Lake and Don Quixote. Later, it also took up contemporary ballets created by Egyptian composers and choreographers such as Osiris featuring the legend of Isis and Osiris and El Nil ballet.
Since 1973, the company has been performing outside Egypt starting in Moscow and Leningrad, then in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Germany, France, Italy, USA, Tunisia, Korea, and China. In 1991, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company was integrated into the National Cultural Centre, directed by Dr. Abdel Moneim Kamel who added to the repertoire of the company his own version of Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Cinderella, Le Corsaire, Carmina Burana, Bolero, Hamlet, Malgré Tout, Zorba, Danses qu'on Croise, and The Rites of Spring.
In 1998-1999, the company participated in the production of Aida at the pyramids platform, directed by Dr. Abdel Moneim Kamel. In 2001, he successfully produced El-Leila El- Kebira. Since 2004, Erminia Gambarelli Kamel has been artistic director of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company which regularly performs abroad. There have been tours to Canada, Mexico, the Czech Republic, England, Jordan, Syria, Mauritius Island, and Japan.×
According to chronicles, opera performances were staged by visiting artists in Egypt as early as 1840, but the first official Cairo Opera House was constructed in 1869. However, the “Cairo Opera Company”, a purely Egyptian opera company, associated to the Ministry of Culture, was only established after the 1952 Revolution, when the Cairo Conservatoire produced enough Egyptian operatic talents.
In the early sixties, Ratiba El-Hefny sang the main role in the operetta The Merry Widow and both Amira Kamel and Violette Makkar achieved great success with their performance of Aida in Belgrade.
When the Cairo Opera Company officially started its performances in 1964, La Traviata (translated into Arabic by Ibrahim Refaat) was on the programme, and new stars such as Manar Abou Heif, Nabila Erian, Hassan Kamy, Youssef Sabbagh, Regina Youssef, Gaber El-Beltagui and Youssef Ezzat made their debut.
Gradually, the Cairo Opera Company attained success with productions such as Madame Butterfly, The Dancing Years, La Bohème, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony until tragically, the old Opera House was destroyed by a fire in 1971.
The Opera Company continued its activity performing at the Gomhouria Theatre, Ewart Memorial Hall and Sayed Darwish Theatre instead, until the new Opera House was inaugurated. New stars such as Sobhi Bidair, Reda El-Wakil, Iman Moustafa, Neveen Allouba and Hanan El-Guindy, Mona Rafla, and Tahia Shams el Din pursued their path of success.
Today, the Cairo Opera Company’s repertoire includes 32 opera productions with a permanent ensemble of 32 artists whose refined skills cover opera works from Baroque to Verismo. Some of these artists have performed on the most renowned opera stages of the world and they paved the way for future stars like Amira Selim, Dalia Farouk, Tamer Tawfik, Gala El-Hadidi and others who devote effort and passion to contribute to the Cairo Opera’s excellent reputation.×
The Cairo Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1959 and ever since it has played an eminent and unique role in promoting and enriching the musical life in Egypt. The orchestra’s first music director and conductor was Franz Litschauer. Ahmed Ebeid and Youssef El-Sisi, two Egyptian conductors, succeeded the maestro as chief conductors. Performing at the former Cairo Opera House, the orchestra gave symphonic concerts, accompanied opera and ballet performances including both local and foreign companies among which were the famous Russian ballets Bolshoy and Kirov, and the Royal Ballet of London.
With the beginning of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra's residence at the New Cairo Opera House in 1990 and under the directorship of maestro Ahmed El-Saedi the orchestra restricted its activities to symphonic works. This opened up new horizons for the orchestra in terms of repertoire and number of concerts. Works by Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Schönberg, Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich have become an integral part of its repertoire.
Since the integration of the A Cappella Choir into the Cairo Symphony Orchestra both have performed together major works for chorus and orchestra such as Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ A German Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and MissaSolemnis, Mahler’s Second Symphony Resurrection and Dvořák’sStabat Mater.
The Cairo Symphony Orchestra has played a crucial role in the development of Egyptian contemporary music and in the inspiration of Egyptian musicians, soloists and conductors alike. Among the successful highlights organized and performed during the past seasons was “Beethoven Festival” celebrating the 175th anniversary of his death, the “Twentieth Century Music Festival” and “Arab Perspectives Music Festival”.
Many international guest conductors such as Charles Munch, Carlo Zecchi, OttokarTruhlik, Ole Schmidt, Yehudi Menuhin, Gennady Rozhdesivensky, Janos Kukla, Patrick Fournillier, Daniel Barenboim and others have led the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. Among the soloists who have performed with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra are Rudolf Buchbinder, Abdel Rahman El-Basha. JoergDemus, RamzyYassa, André Navarra, MistislavRostropovitch, ViktoriaPosinikova, Stefan Vladar and Christian Alienburger.
During the past several years the Cairo Symphony Orchestra has regularly toured many European countries and its two artistic tours to China (2004 and 2006) both were great successes. In July 2008, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra participated in the Jerash Festival - Jordan, accompanying the great Tenor Placido Domingo.
For the 45thSeason, the Mexican Maestro Sergio Càrdenas was the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. For the 46thSeason, the Swiss Conductor Christoph Mueller was the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. For the 47thand 48thSeasons, the British Conductor Steven Lloyd was the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. For the 49thSeason, the Swiss Conductor Andreas Spörri was the Chief Conductor of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. For the 50th, 51stand 52ndSeasons, the Italian Conductor Marcello Mottadelli was the Principal Conductor of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. For the 53rdand 54thSeason, the Czech Conductor JiříPetrdlík is the Artistic Director and the Principal Conductor of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
It is worth mentioning that Inès Abdel Daïm was director of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2012.×
Since the founding of the Cairo Opera Orchestra in 1994, it has played a main role in Egypt's music scene. The orchestra's repertoire includes a vast number of celebrated classic ballets and famous operas or operettas which are successfully performed with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company or the Cairo Opera Company.
In 1995, Sherif Mohie El Din was appointed Orchestra Director, and the orchestra was joined by an increasing number of talented Egyptian musicians. Shortly afterwards, they appeared in a series of symphonic afternoon concerts under the name of "Music for All", which won instant acclaim.
The orchestra has been headed by various Egyptian and international conductors. Among the soloists participating in the orchestra concerts are the renowned Monserrat Caballe, Wolfgang Marschner, Gisèle Herbet, Dame Malvina Mayor, as well as top Egyptian soloists. In addition to its important role in national tours, the orchestra was invited to several tours in countries such as Austria, Germany, France and Lebanon.
In the 2002/2003 season, Nader Abbassi was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Cairo Opera Orchestra. He significantly advanced the orchestra’s skills by encouraging a versatile, professional approach to the performance of music.
To broaden the skills of the musicians and solo singers, Nader Abbassi added to the schedule orchestral performances, called Gala Concerts. Up to seven Gala Concerts of outstanding quality are performed each season.
The Cairo Opera Orchestra participated in famous ballets, operas and Gala Concerts including Verdi's epic "Aida", which was performed at the Pyramids platform. The orchestra collaborated with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and the Spirit of Europe Orchestra in two Gala Concerts and participated in some of the world's most renowned music festivals such as Ludwigshafen, Germany, or Servantino and Tamaulipas Festivals in Mexico.
Since season 2011/2012 , Nayer Nagui is Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Cairo Opera Orchestra.×
The National Arab Music Ensemble was founded with the goal of reviving the classical Arab music heritage. The National Cultural Centre “Cairo Opera House” established the ensemble in 1989 and put it under the supervision of Dr. Ratiba El-Hefny and the directorship of Maestro Selim Sahab.
The main objective of the National Arab Music Ensemble is to collect the musical heritage from different Arab nations and present it in an academic context.
Soloists from different Arab countries performed with the ensemble. Among them were famous Arab singers like Wadee El Safy, Soad Mohamed, Soad Mekkawy, Somaya Kaysar and Lotfy Boshnak. The ensemble consists of about 100 musicians and singers. Due to its exceptional style, the National Arab Music Ensemble earned national and international acclaim. In its first year, the ensemble was awarded the Gold Medal and its conductor the Silver Medal at the Babylon Music Festival.
The Ensemble participated in many festivals and celebrations such as the Carthage Festival (Tunisia 1990), the Kuwaiti National Independence Day (1991), El Rabat Festival (1993), Sour Festival (Lebanon 1997), El Kareen Festival (Kuwait 1997), Shopping Festival (Dubai 1998), El Mahaba Festival (Syria 1998), the Egyptian-American Friendship Association Concert (USA 1998), the Egyptian-Tunisian Cultural Week (Tunisia 2001), Umm Kulthum’s Centennial Celebration (Paris 2001) and El Rabat Festival ( Morocco 2001).×
The late conductor Abdel Halim Nowera founded the Religious Song Ensemble in 1972 and conducted its first concert in 1973. The main aim of the ensemble is to preserve the religious song heritage.
Therefore, Abdel Halim Nowera asked Mohamed El Fayoumy and Abdel Samie Bayoumi, two of the most famous religious singers of that time, to teach the members of the ensemble masterpieces of the religious songs like those by Ali Mahmoud, Ismael Sokkar, Sayed Mousa and Darwish El Hariry.
Maestro Abdel Halim Nowera also requested the famous musician Abdel Moneim El Hariry to compose the musical prologues for these works so that they could be presented in a modern style.
The ensemble started its concerts at the Sayed Darwish Theatre in El-Haram with 16 singers and 25 musicians. Today, the number of its members has increased to 30 singers and 40 musicians. The ensemble was headed by various conductors like Abdel Moneim El-Hariry, Yosri Khater, Salah Ghobashy, and currently byOmar Farahat
The Religious Song Ensemble performs all over Egypt achieving great success and acclaim. It participated in many international religious song festivals like the Mediterranean Countries Festival in Marseille (France), El Rabat Religious Song Festival (Morocco) and the Music and Song Festival (Poland).
The Religious Song Ensemble is considered the only ensemble in Egypt performing modern and classical religious songs.
The ensemble’s conductor is maestro Farouk El-Bably. They regularly give concerts at the Arab Music Institute, the great building that witnessed the first Conference for Arab Music in 1932 and still plays an important role in the protection of the different styles of Arab music×
Contradiction, the first performance staged by Walid Aouni in 1992 was awarded the critics' prize at the Festival of Experimental Theatre and as a result, the Modern Dance Theatre Company was established as a company of the Cairo Opera House. Under its director Walid Aouni it has since performed eighteen major works
- The Fall of Icarus (1993)
- Excavation of Agatha (1994)
- The Trilogy: Coma (1995), The Last Interview (1996), The Desert of Shady Abdel Salam (1997)
- Elephants Hide to Die (1995 - 2005)
- At the Beginning there was Dance (1997)
- Song of Whales (1998)
- Scarecrow (1999)
- Shahrazad Korsakov (2000)
- The Secrets of Samarkand (2001)
- Life Vest under Your Seat I (2001)
- Underground (2002)
- Sculpture Dream (2003)
- Life Vest under Your Seat II (2003)
- Moving Sands (2004)
- Between Dusk and Dawn (2005)
- Banat Bahary (2005)
- Fairouz Did You ever Cry (2006)
- Smell of Ice (2007)
1995 was the first time Egypt was awarded the prize of Best Scenography for Elephants Hide to Die at the Seventh International Festival of Experimental Theatre, and in 1996, it was the first Arab country to become a member of the ITI at the fifth workshop for theatre music in Munich. Khamassene Winds in 2003, was awarded "Best Scenographic Work" at the Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festivals.
- Germany: Weimar Opera, Munich, 1996; Recklinghausen Festival 2002-2003; Frankfurt Opera - International Book Fair, 2004
- Korea: Tchang Mu Festival, 1996
- Belgium: Brugge Festival, 1997
- Tunisia: Rencontre de la Méditerranée, 1997; Festival International de Théâtre de Carthage 2000
- Morocco: El Rabat International Festival, 1999; Modern Dance Festival of Casablanca, 2000
- Syria: Egyptian Cultural Week, 2001
- Switzerland: Geneva Arena - Aida, 2001
- France: Corps à Coeur Festival, Aix-en-Provence, 2001
- Italy: Teatro Quirino, Roma, 2003
- China: Beijing Tianjin, 2004×
The ensemble was founded in November 2004 and made its debut at the Arab Music Festival in Cairo and Alexandria. In the following year, it performed several concerts for children. The ensemble was highly acclaimed by the Congolese press for its participation in the International African Music Festival of Congo. It also participated in the Summer Festival at the Romanian Theatre. The ensemble consists of 42 singers.
Under the baton of Abdel Hamid Abdel Ghafar it matured into a remarkably harmonious group, a fact which led to the ensemble’s
further development and success. One of its main aims is to preserve the artistic values of Arab music.×