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Opera opens Lebanese fete

Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida was performed on Thursday night at the Roman theatre in Lebanon's southern coastal city of Tyre, marking the start of the country's summer arts festival season.

Last Modified: 04 Jul 2003 15:46 GMT

Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida was performed on Thursday night at the Roman theatre in Lebanon's southern coastal city of Tyre, marking the start of the country's summer arts festival season.

A cast of hundreds staged a lavish open-air performance as part of the Tyre International Festival.

Two other festivals are set to open in Lebanon in July. One at the Beiteddine palace in the mountains on 10 July, and one at the Roman temple in Baalbeck on 12 July.

 

The opera was presented against the backdrop of an ancient Egyptian temple dominated by a large sphinx.

 

Verdi composed Aida for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, at the request of Egypt's then ruler Khedive Ismail.

 

But it was not staged in Egypt until December 1871, because costumes and equipment were held up in France during the Franco-Prussian war.

 

The 5,000-seat theatre was packed and another performance of Aida is scheduled for Saturday.

 

Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and his wife Randa, the main organizer of the Tyre festival attended the show.

 

The festival has become an annual southern event that aims at highlighting the cultural heritage of south Lebanon.

 

Authorities in Lebanon have been trying hard to revive the country's tourism industry which was shattered after years of war (1975-1990) and a 22-year Israel occupation in the south (1978-2000).

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