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SYNOPSIS - Opera Libretto

The President is unmoved and dismissive of the protesting crowd in Tahrir Square.  He is supported and at the same time confronted by military advisors who are loyal to him but intend to maintain their position of power and control.  The President has imposed much cruelty on his people but has deluded himself into believing he is loved and respected.  He believes he has saved his country from its enemies within and without. 

At an early stage in the opera, we are introduced to a member of the Palace guard, Hamadi, loyal to the President but in love with a young protester, Akila.  Akila lives with her aged father, Tarik, an ex-military, who has been raised from poverty to the ruling class of Egypt by the President.  There is therefore a conflict between Akila and her lover who is loyal to the President as well as between Akila and her father, Tarik.  Akila, Hamadi, and Tarik, are torn because of their personal relationships to each other and their loyalty to the President.

The protesters (Chorus) in the Square demand the President’s resignation, but they too have divided motivations:  there are six different constituencies represented:  the Pious; the Militant; the Poor; the Patriot; the Youth; and the Cynic, each of whom addresses the audience.  They make an unholy alliance – each wanting change and power, each with different motivations.  At the same time Akila and Hamadi provide a counterpoint expressing their love for one another.

Akila is killed reflecting on the value of her life during a violent attack by “hoodlum” supporters of the President.  The President pleads for time to rule.  There are three “interludes” in the second act: the President’s confrontations with the U.S., the Saudis, the Israeli representative; the upper class establishment who support the regime; the media who record and report to the West about the riots and protest movement.  Ultimately, the President is forced to resign, castigating those who have deserted him, and reflecting on his past life and future with bitterness. 

The Cynic warns us of his country’s history.  The child of poverty wanders lost throughout the opera.  The opera ends with a chorus of women ululating with their tongues, whispering in anguish as the child of poverty wanders lost.  The Cynic shrugs as the protesters go their separate ways, some singing a joyous Egyptian dance, others a sad dirge-like lament.

The libretto is constructed with ensembles, arias, patter-like songs, etc.  Some are patriotic and soaring; others, dirge-like (adagios and cantabiles); others, cacophonous and violent; others lyrical love pieces.  The libretto is written to be sung in English.  Some arias are repeated in Arabic.  It is somewhat like a Greek play with the chorus and the sextet of protesters, individually and together, pleading their case with the audience, the Military and the President.  The major solo arias are:

Hamadi p. 6
Tarik 7/8/9
President 17/18
Poverty 20
Hamadi 25
Akila 30/31/32
President 36/37
President 42/43
Patriot 45
The major ensemble pieces (the Military Quartet is always sung in one voice) are:
Duet (Akila and Military Quartet) p. 10
Sextet (Pious, Poverty, Youth, Militant, Patriot, Cynic and Chorus) 14/15/16
Duet (Poverty and Military Quartet) 20
Sextet and Chorus 22/23
Duet (Akila, Hamadi) 26/27
Quartet (Pious, Militant, Poverty, Patriot) 34
Military Quartet 35
Duet (U.S. and Saudi) 39
Trio (U.S., Saudi, Israeli) 40
Sextet and Chorus 43/44
Quartet (President, Tarik, Hamadi, Prisoner) 47

View the full libretto.