Cairo Opera House

The Cairo Opera House (Arabic: دار الأوبرا المصرية‎; Dār el-Opera el-Masreyya; literally "Egyptian Opera House"), part of Cairo's National Cultural Center, is the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital. Home to most of Egypt's finest musical groups, it is located on the southern portion of Gezira Island in the Nile River, in the Zamalek district west of and near downtown Cairo.


The opera house was inaugurated on October 10, 1988. The funds for the complex were a gift from the nation of Japan to Egypt as a result of President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Japan in April 1983. Construction began in May 1985 and lasted for three years.

In October 1988, President Mubarak and His Imperial Highness, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the younger brother of the Japanese Emperor, inaugurated the National Cultural Centre Cairo Opera House. It was the first time for Japan to stage a Kabuki show, a traditional popular drama with singing and dancing, in Africa or the Arab World.

In recognition of the Cairo Opera House, the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra chose it as a venue for their first performance in the Middle East and Africa in January 2007.

Khedivial Opera House

In 1869, Khedive Ismail gave instructions to build an opera house to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. It was called Khedivial (Royal) Opera House and was meant as a lasting and outstanding symbol of the arts of drama and music. Designed by Italian architects Avoscani and Rossi, the opera house was completed in six months, in the center of Cairo near the Azbakeya district.

The Khedive commissioned a performance that should reflect the ancient Egyptian history and French archaeologist Auguste Mariette Bey, in the Khedive’s service, wrote a plot which eventually served the respected Italian librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni as a basis for his libretto. Giuseppe Verdi was appointed to compose the music. The result was the famous opera, Aida, with its heroic quality, powerful dramatic scenes and its passionate music.

The Opera House opened with Rigoletto; one of Verdi's earlier masterpieces. Contrary to general belief, Aida was neither commissioned for the inauguration of the Opera House nor for the Suez Canal. Aida was first performed in 1871.

The Khedivial Opera House was the first on the African continent to perform world famous operas and symphonic masterpieces.

A little over a century later, in the early morning of October 28, 1971, the great Khedivial Royal Opera House was completely destroyed by a fire.

Performance spaces
  • Main Hall: Seats 1,300 people in its four levels, including orchestra seating, three tiers and a presidential box. Used for operas and orchestra and ballet performances
  • Small Hall: Seats up to 500 people on a single floor; used for chamber music and recitals. Can double as a very large reception hall for important events.
  • Open-air Theatre: Acoustically designed square shaped stage used for outdoor performances, seats 600 people.
Resident companies
  • Cairo Symphony Orchestra
  • Cairo Opera Company
  • Cairo Opera Ballet Company
  • National Arab Music Ensemble
  • Abdel Halim Nowera Company
  • Cairo Opera Orchestra
  • Cairo Modern Dance Theater
  • Heritage Ensemble for Arab Music
  • Religious Song Ensemble
  • Cairo Opera Choir
  • Cairo Opera Children's Choir


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