Verdi received a request in November of 1869 from the Viceroy of Egypt to compose a commemorative hymn for the opening of the Suez Canal. Verdi refused the request on the grounds that he was not accustomed to writing such ceremonial music. The Viceroy then perusaded French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, who wrote a scenario set in ancient Egypt drawn partially from Metastasio's 1756 libretto for Nitteti
, to visit Paris in order to introduce him to the theatre producer Camille Du Locle, with the goal of mounting a new opera based upon Mariette's scenario with music from either Verdi, Gounod or Wagner. Although considering a new opera, Verdi had no intention of taking on the Egyptian scenario but changed his mind when Du Locle himself showed him the outline. With an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, the new opera was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on December 24, 1871 to an audience consisting of only politicians, dignitaries and critics. Verdi did not attend the premiere and was irritated that members of the general public were excluded. The next performance took place at the Scala Theatre in Milan the evening of February 8, 1872, which the composer thereafter considered to be the real opening night.
The present vocal score is a digitally-enhanced reissue of the one first published in 1897 by G. Schirmer of New York, with an English translation by Mrs. G.G. Laurence appearing beneath the original Italian text. Unlike so many of the on-demand scores now available, this one comes with all the pages and the images have been thoroughly checked to make sure it is readable. The score is beautifully printed at a large, readable size with a quality cover. As with all PLP scores a percentage of each sale is donated to the amazing online archive of free music scores and recordings, IMSLP - Petrucci Music Library.