by Marwa Yahya
LUXOR, Egypt, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Egyptian city of Luxor, which houses two thirds of the country's historical monuments, has been turned into a beehive to finish preparations for Opera Aida which is set to be held from Oct. 26-28 after a hiatus of over two decades.
With a tour of Luxor, work could be seen around the clock on maintaining roads, trimming the trees, decorating the tourist sites and putting signs in different languages in the streets.
Joy and energy could be seen on the faces of the residents who expect the show to bring tourism to its glory again.
"We are at the doors of winter, a high season for tourists that coincides with the display of Aida," Mohamed Salah, owner of an alabaster factory told Xinhua.
He felt optimistic that the large number of tourists who would come to watch Opera Aida will bring hopes to the workers in the tourism sector and compensate for the huge losses of the previous years.
Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt's economy and a major source of income for millions of citizens and foreign exchange. But the sector suffered severely following the 2011 popular uprising and was further hampered by a spate of militant attacks.
"The show is highly expected to promote tourist flows to Egypt," said Mohamed Othman, chairman of the committee for marketing cultural tourism in Upper Egypt and head of the organizing committee of the highly-anticipated Opera Aida.
The show will take place on the stage of Luxor's Temple of Hatshepsut, where Aida was last performed in 1997 led by Ukrainian Maestro Oksana Lenev and directed by German director Michael Shtorm.
"The temple is undergoing preparations to welcome 150 opera singers and performers from the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine onto its stage," Othman told Xinhua.
Luxor will see a considerable flow of tourist delegations, he added, noting all tickets that cost from 100 to 750 U.S. dollars have been sold out, indicating the eagerness of visitors to attend the show.
The show will be organized yearly in Luxor but in different famous sites.
Widely known for his deep love for the opera and the entire European culture, Khedive Ismail decided to celebrate the inauguration of the Suez Canal and the Cairo Opera House 150 years ago with the composition of a new opera.
Originally composed by Italy's Giuseppe Verdi, Aida is based on a Pharaonic love story written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette upon the Khedive's request. The story was set in ancient Egypt and portrayed love and betrayal against the backdrop of war.
Aida, the Ethiopian princess, was held captive in Egypt. She fell in love with the Egyptian military commander Radames, captain of the Guard, who was chosen to lead a war with Ethiopia.
Aida was torn between her love for Radames and for her country. The story is a roller coaster of emotions told through Verdi's powerful music.
Othman said the show this year will mark 150 years on the inauguration of the Suez Canal and next year will commemorate the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king who ruled Egypt from about 1332 to 1323 BC.
Luxor has been prepared to welcome Aida Opera by fixing the roads, paving the streets leading to the Temple of Hatshepsut and beautifying the Nile corniche, said Mostafa Alham, governor of Luxor.
Invitations were sent to high ranks officials, ambassadors, diplomats and representatives of the world's leading tourism companies to promote the important event that will revive the cultural tourism in Luxor, the governor noted.