For Eden and me, one of the unexpected pleasures of living in Cairo has been the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a thriving cultural environment. We have enjoyed all of the different forms of art and culture that Cairo offers, and have especially enjoyed getting to know the unique institution of the Cairo Opera House, where we have attended many beautiful concerts and art exhibitions over the past four years.
Americans believe that culture is good for us as human beings. It helps us be more civilized and to respect one another. Making or participating in culture and art is by its nature a shared activity that encourages communication and empathy among otherwise isolated individuals. It fosters respect, compassion, understanding, and joy. This makes it possible for humans to work together in joint activities of shared benefit; helping us live together peaceably despite differences of origin, belief, or economic status. That’s why our embassy here and US embassies around the world put so much effort into supporting cultural activities of all forms.
Among the different arts, music has a special communicative power. By its nature, it transcends languages and geography. It’s called the common language of mankind, and, research says, preceded written and even spoken language by tens of thousands of years. Animals communicate and work together through tones and rhythms and so do people. Music is a bottomless depth and worlds of treasures.
It those musical depths that we have so enjoyed exploring at Dar al-Opera. And for us that is why supporting the Opera House and the Cairo Opera is so important to us. As an embassy we have enjoyed bringing American musicians to Cairo to perform at the Opera House and other cultural venues around the country. It’s exciting that so many Egyptians share this belief and and work so hard to support cultural activities. The best part of this hard work is that it’s fun to do.
The Cairo “Friends of the Opera” organization plays a key role in supporting Egyptian art, music, and culture. We are proud and happy to support you and your activities on behalf of the Opera, and to welcome you to the US Ambassador’s residence, which we want to be a locus of culture, enterprise, and peace-making that brings together Americans and Egyptians of all origins.
We are graced tonight to be able to listen to the beautiful voice and performance of Gala el-Hadidi, accompanied by the piano virtuosity of David Hales. Gala is the personification of how music transcends borders and geography. Born, and forever, a proud Egyptian, she received musical training in Egypt, the United States, and in Europe, and now offers her talents to audiences in Egypt, Europe, and the Americas. David, who comes from the United Kingdom, has shared his talents in Egypt for many years. We are very happy that both of you could be with us.
A lot of people worked very hard to organize this event. Not least Eden and our friends at Friends of the Opera, including Shahira al Katcha. Numerous Embassy offices, led by the protocol office, with the support of our public affairs, security, facilities, and general services offices, played indispensable roles. Many members of the US Embassy community are with us tonight and the Eventers production company prepared the beautiful stage and lighting. We are very thankful to Mirela Odobasic and the official residence staff, without whom we could not do anything even approaching this scale.
We’ve been fortunate to make new friends through music and art, which is why we are so happy and honored to have you with us. I am sure you have noticed the holiday theme and decorations here and in the house. We wish everyone very happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.