Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Ad for Sala Casino el Masry, a Summer Club in Alexandria
Probably 1930's

 

 

By Priscilla Adum

 

 

 

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Introduction

Editor's Note: Fathya Ahmed (written in Arabic as فتحية أحمد) was a well-known singer in Egypt and the Levant in the first half of the 20th century, well known for her mawawil (vocal improvisations), ballads, and classical style of singing. She was the niece of the famous performer Bamba Kashar, who came from an Awalim family. Composers that she worked with include Sayed Darwish, Riad Sombati, Zakaria Ahmed, and Ahmed Sedki. She appeared in 3 movies, including Aida (1942). Fathya was born in 1898, and died on December 5, 1975.

Fathya was affectionately referred to as Toha (sometimes spelled Touha). She also became known as The Ballad Queen, because of one of the genres of music she was famous for, and The Singer of Two Lands, because she divided her time between Egypt and greater Syria.

The advertisement on this page features a summer nightclub Fathya owned in Alexandria. Unfortunately, the date and publication name are not known. It's reasonable to guess this might have been in the 1930's.

In 1924, an advertisement promoted a music show at Casino El Bosphore that featured Fathya Ahmed. She performed in Badia Masabni's Sala Badia in Cairo in 1927. Fathya also performed in Badia Masabni's summer nightclubs in 1928 (opening and closing) and 1930. Therefore, it seems reasonable to guess that the undated ad on this page for Fathya operating her own summer nightclub in Alexandria was sometime in the 1930's.

The name of the nightclub featured in the ad below, "Sala Casino el-Masry", means "Egyptian Sala Casino." As of 1935, from June through September the theatrical quarter of Cairo was deserted, as entertainment companies moved to either Alexandria or suburbs of Cairo for the summer. (1)

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo from Akram Al-Rayess' Facebook page dedicated to Fathya Ahmed.

Fathya Ahmed

 

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Sala Casino el-Masry

Camp Shizar on The Corniche

Tonight and the Following Days

Delighting You With Her Kind and Magical Voice, The Singer Of The Two Lands:

Madame Fathya Ahmed

With Her Band Made Up Of the Most Skillful Players

Conductor: El Oustaz Kamel Ibrahim

A Program Filled With Song and Art at the Most Deluxe Casino in Alexandria

Presenting The Most Beautiful and Amazing Humorous Monologues:
Tawheda and Zozo

The Troupe of Beautiful Dancers: Amina Noushi, Soraia El Turkiya, Aziza Rayad, Hayat Mohamed, Saniya Sherif, Mimi El Gamila

Monologues by El Oustaz Hussein Saleh

New and Creative Sketches, Modern Lights, Deluxe Theater, Full Orchestra

Caption Under the Picture:

The Singer of the Two Lands, Madame Fathya Ahmed

Manager: Gamal Afandi Gom3a

Excellent Drinks

Fathya Ahmed

 

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Footnotes

  1. Nevill Barbour. "The Arabic Theater in Egypt". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London Vol. 8, No. 1 (1935), pp. 173-187 (15 pages).

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This 1924 ad promoted a show at the Casino el-Bosphore, which is one of the theaters mentioned in the article "The Arabic Theater in Egypt". This ad mentions Fathya Ahmed as one of the singers performing in that show.

Ad for Casino el-Bosphore

 

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Related Articles on This Web Site

 

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Other Resources on Fathya Ahmed

  • "Toha", Chanteuse of Egypt and Levant. Appeared in Al Ahram Online in 2014. Provides a summarized bio of her life and how she fit into Egyptian music and culture.
  • Ballad Queen. Article in Al Ahram Weekly discussing the release of a biography of Fathya Ahmed written by Moheb Gamil.
  • Fatheyia Ahmad. Facebook page created by Akram Al-Rayess to honor the singer. Offers photos and videos of her singing.

 

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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 

Priscilla

 

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