Aida

I’m so excited that it is December 2012 that I decided to celebrate 21 days of Egypt from December 1 to Winter Solstice December 21. I was so pleased when the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and The Metropolitan Opera in New York decided to join me in honoring Egypt.

On December 2 the famous Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow simulcast live to theaters around the world a new production of The Pharaoh’s Daughter. An obscure ballet about Egypt, the Bolshoi is the only company dancing this classic ballet. I was delighted with the unimaginably incongruent combination of classic French ballet and ancient Egypt, like Swan Lake danced in King Tut’s tomb. I loved it because I believe tutus are appropriate any time, any place, any millennium. When the Princess fell into the Nile and met up with Neptune, (ooops wrong country, wrong god) I was enchanted. The entire afternoon I was immersed in total joy and beauty.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York, wanting to participate in the grand celebration, also simulcast live on radio and in theaters the magnificent Egyptian opera Aida on December 15. I couldn’t have wished for more. Verdi’s masterpiece was premiered in Cairo in 1871 and has become one of the most beloved operas. Every moment is beautiful, from the love duets to the famous triumphal march. It is a timeless story of love, rejection, betrayal, heroism and pageantry all with spectacular music, bringing together hundreds of the world’s best musicians, singers, costume designers and stagers. Opera is the best of all art forms coming together to tell the timeless truths of the human experience.

A few years ago I was sitting in the lobby of the Meridian hotel in Egypt when a half dozen porters and waiters came rushing to the front door, hurriedly putting on their ancient Egyptian attire and pulling out trumpets. Several large buses of tourists had arrived and this little ensemble was there to greet them with the great Triumphal March from Aida. Several rounds of the chorus later, all the tourists were in the lobby and the porters went back to carrying bags. At the Luxor home of Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut’s tomb, there was an old wind-up phonograph; under it was a hundred year old copy of Aida. I can just imagine the tired archeologist sitting outside with a cool drink after a hard day’s work listing to the opera for comfort and inspiration.

When I was sitting in the theater watching these two celebrations of all things Egypt, I kept thinking about what an amazing world we live in. I’m sitting in Knoxville, Tennessee but also on stage of the Bolshoi in Moscow, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Through the magic of satellites in orbit I’m in two places at once on different sides of the earth and immersed in the energy of ancient Egypt, and during the intermissions texting friends in different states enjoying the same experience. We are teleporting and time traveling and didn’t even realize it.

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