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

Article About Grand Opening of Opera Cinema (aka Badia Cinema)
May 6, 1940

 

 

Translated by Priscilla Adum

 

 

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Introduction

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The beautiful Art Deco Style Opera Cinema that stood right next door to Badia Masabni's Casino Opera opened its doors to the public for the first time in May of 1940, just a few months before Badia Masabni opened her new nightclub at Opera Square. To this day, the Opera Cinema is still known as Cinema Badia by old timers who can recall when the flashing lights of both the Casino Opera and the Cinema Opera illuminated the Cairo nights side by side.

Interestingly, this cinema didn't belong to Badia Masabni. Although she did own a cinema at her summer casino complex near the Blind Bridge (also known as the English Bridge) in Giza City, she didn't own the one next door to her club at Opera Square. That cinema was owned by two men (apparently brothers) by the names of Mohamed and Moustafa Ga3far.

Perhaps the confusion comes because not only was it right next door to Badia's famous Casino Opera which opened a few months later, but also the grand opening featured performances by Badia Masabni, Taheya Carioca, and many other famous personalities. This article from Al Ahram covers the gala event.

Click any photo on this page to see more detail.

image

 

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El Ahram May 6, 1940

Opening of a New Egyptian Cinema in Cairo Opera Cinema Garden

The Most Luxurious and Classy Summer Cinema in the Capital

The number of cinemas in Cairo has increased since yesterday with the opening of the Opera Garden Cinema in the center of the capital. To our delight, this modern Egyptian Garden with its luxury, elegance, its excellent decor, and its orderly schedule is a source of pride for all Egyptians. It's Egyptian-owned, Egyptian in design, and under Egyptian management because it belongs to 2 young men, Mohamed and Moustafa Ga3far.

The opening night celebration was in honor of the new WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION which is overseen by Her Majesty Queen Nazli and its Honorary President is Princess Shawakar. This classy party was attended by important high class Egyptians. Her Majesty Queen Nazli sent the wife of Mouhib Basha to represent her. Princess Shawakar attended the party, as well as the most important Bank Misr executives, headed by Hafez Afifi Basha and Abdel Maksoud Bek Ahmed and others.

Aside from the cinematic presentation, this party featured a monologue performed by Madame Badia Masabni and raqs sharqi performed by Miss Taheya Carioca as well as foreign dancing and singing which satisfied all those present, both Egyptians and foreigners.

We congratulate these two young Egyptian men for their project and we wish them much success with it.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: This scan shows the article translated above regardiing the gala event celebrating the opening of the Opera Cinema.

Article About Opera Cinema

 

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Photos of Opera Square

This photo shows Opera Square in the 1920's, or maybe the 1930's at the very latest. Neither the Casino Opera nor the Opera Cinema had been built yet, and there is a different building standing in the place where they would later be built, in the center background of this photo.

Opera Square in 1920's or 1930's

This photo from the early 1940's shows the Casino Opera and the Cinema Opera side by side when they were new. Opera Cinema
This photo of the Casino Opera and Cinema Opera offers a closer look. It was taken by the legendary Egyptian-Armenian photographer Van Leo. Judging from the style of car parked in front of it, the photo probably dates to the mid-1940's. Casino Opera and Cinema Opera
This photo shows the Opera Cinema in dilapidated condition in 1982. At the time, it was still functioning as a movie theater. Photo Credit: John Leach, Cinema Theater Association. Opera Cinema in 1982
This closeup of the Opera Cinema was taken in 2012 by Dr. Hisham el-Agamy. Opera Cinema in 2012
This is a wider view of Opera Square, with the Cinema Opera as the smaller building in the center of the photo. Photo was taken in 2012 by Dr. Hisham el-Agamy. Opera Cinema 2012

 

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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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