Monday March 4th, 2024
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H. Sinno Hosts Ancient Egyptian-Inspired Performance at the MET

Mashrou' Leila’s former lead singer H. Sinno presents a site-specific opera at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Farah Desouky

H. Sinno Hosts Ancient Egyptian-Inspired Performance at the MET

Lebanese-American singer, composer and activist H. Sinno put ancient Egyptian history centre stage with a live performance at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met) in honour of the Temple of Dendur, which was moved to the museum in the 1960s after the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Titled ‘Westerly Breath’, the opera saw the former member of alt-rock band Mashrou' Leila connect their personal journey from Lebanon to the US in 2019 with that of the ancient Egyptian monument. Whilst Sinno migrated out of Lebanon amidst a charged sociopolitical climate, the Temple of Dendur was moved when the US government donated USD 16 million to help preserve ancient monuments in Upper Egypt and Nubia, keeping them from becoming damaged by rising waters as the result of the Aswan High Dam. Egyptian President Nasser gifted the temple to the US as a show of gratitude, and it was dismantled and rebuilt in New York City, where it has since been kept in a climate controlled room within the Met.

Through this metaphor, Sinno weaves together myth, personal narrative and grandeur through their vocals, strings and electronic music. Drawing inspiration from the Osiris myth pivotal in Egyptian funeral rites - in which Osiris himself was killed, split into pieces, and put together again - Sinno utilises the temple's symbolism to reflect on migration, resurrection and their journey as a person of Arab descent in the diaspora.

The performance took place on January 26th and 27th, and is slated to travel to other locations.

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