Art Alert: BA Arts Centre to bring Mozart’s Requiem to audiences in Alexandria, Cairo

The iconic mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be staged twice, at Bibliotheca Alexandrina and All Saints’ Cathedral in Cairo.

“Death is man’s best friend,” Mozart wrote in a letter to his father.

When Mozart died over 200 years ago, he left behind hundreds of works: operas, concerti, symphonies, chamber works and more. Ironically, he died during his first assignment for Requiem, a mass for the dead, a composition he left unfinished. The unique circumstances surrounding Mozart’s Requiem add to the high emotional weight that is enclosed in the mass’ fourteen movements (Süssmayr completion version).

One of the best known works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626), will be performed in Alexandria on 25 April and then in Cairo on 26 April.

“Death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling!,” Mozart wrote to his father.

In July 1791, while busy working on his opera The Magic Flute, Mozart received a letter from a mysterious person unknown to the composer asking him to compose Requiem. In serious need of money, the advanced payment of 50 ducats made Mozart accept the assignment. Though Mozart promised to finish the work in four weeks, Requiem’s composition continued to be interrupted by many other obligations.

Failing health added to the delays and Mozart began feeling under great stress composing the mass. It is at this time of pressure he is known to have remarked “Did I not tell you that I was composing this ‘Requiem’ for myself?”

Beginning in November 1791, Mozart’s health deteriorated severely. He was confined to bed even as he continued to compose. Visited by his students and singers with whom he shared his composition, he listened to them sing its parts. They also helped complete Requiem after his death.

On 5 December 1791, shortly after midnight, Mozart died at the age of 35.

Requiem is being brought to Egyptian audiences by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Arts Centre. It will also be performed in Bridges Culture Centre in Zamalek, Cairo.

The soloists of the evenings will be soprano Dina Iskander, alto Rodica Ocheseanu, tenor Hisham El Guindi and bass Reda El Wakil.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Orchestra, joined by the BA Choir and Heaven Harp Choir will be conducted by Hisham Gabr. Choir master: Rodica Ocheseanu.

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