In a statement released to MENA on Wednesday, to mark the 24th anniversary of the inauguration of the Cairo Opera House, Enas Abdel-Dayem said, "I do not fear the rise of Islamists. The Cairo Opera House will not be touched, because what we present here is highly respectable. We consider some of the worrying statements released every now and then as personal opinions, but I doubt that this is the orientation of the state."
Abdel-Dayem also expressed faith in the formidable force of culture and expression in Egypt, saying it is this force that she is counting on. She said she hoped to see a new constitution that grants full rights of freedom of expression. "I wish to see a constitution that respects rights and protects our Egyptian identity," she said. "I hope to see a constitution with which all Egyptians can identify; Egypt has several great texts from previous times."
Abdel-Dayem denied the accusations disseminated by some that the Opera House is an elitist institution, noting that it has managed to reach the ordinary citizen, offering a range of programmes that target all of society. She maintained that the attendance rate reached 80 percent in most concerts, which shows that Egyptians have grown attached to the Opera in recent years. "The Opera now addresses the people in a simpler language, and we work to reach out to them through broadcasting concerts on TV."
Abdel-Dayem also said the Opera House offers concerts of Arab music that target both older and younger generations. It is an institution, she asserted, that has little competition in the Arab world, for despite the presence of Arab operas, the Cairo Opera stands out apart for its talented artists; the only thing it lacks is funding.
"The Opera is not merely a building,” she said. “It is a spirit."
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