Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Night at the Obera and the Culture Wheel

Going to random cultural events is always hit or miss. You don't really know what the event is about so you just have to go and see for yourself. The past two nights were definitely big hits. On Tuesday, I went to the Cairo Opera House for a night of classical Arabic music, part of the 18th Annual Festival of Arab Music. I had tried going the night before but the ticket man refused to sell me a ticket because I wasn't wearing a suit. That show was in the Main Hall of the Opera house and I guess you can't go in without one. (Lazam tilbis badla -- uhhh... Ma'andeesh -- Asif.)

The show that I ended up going to was in the Small Hall and I had been there before with jeans and a t-shirt so I got in no problem. I really enjoyed the music. A large orchestra supported six singers who each sang two songs.


She was into it.

My favorite guy was the one playing the tambourine. He was really into it too and had perfect posture the whole time.

I always lean back while playing tambourine. But now I know.

Last night I went to a great place called El Sawy Culture Wheel. I had misread the program online and thought that there was going to be Umm Kulthoum Puppet Theater. Umm Kulthoum (known to Egyptians as Umm Kalsoom) is an Egyptian singer from the 50s and 60s and is the equivalent of Beyonce in terms of popularity and bootyliciousness. I had no idea what her puppet theater would be like but I was very excited. When we got into the space, we quickly saw no puppets on stage. I asked an employee what was going on and he said that the puppets were tomorrow night and tonight was a variety show. I'm glad I made my mistake because the music was awesome and I had a really good time. Below is a video of part of an act. They were telling the story of Hassen and Naima which is a classic Arab tale. I would tell you what it's about but I didn't understand most of it. I remember hearing something about a duck.

After them was a four person tabla band who were very very in sync with each other, a story teller who made everyone in the audience laugh (except me and my friend who missed all of the punch lines), and a giant chorus.

Each person had a microphone which seemed a little unnecessary.

Tonight I'm hoping to see some puppets, Umm Kulthoum style. If it's good, I just may have to go to the next puppet show they host: The Beatles.

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