Aida, the room's inspiration, is among the most difficult operas to stage, likewise the room has been the most difficult to build and decorate. I cannot, in this short piece, describe the absolute mess of a space that was Aida. A staircase in the middle of the main room, seven-meter high ceilings in a dark, damp hole, a tin storage shed against the main wall, two collapsing floors on the South facade, small low doors and more horrors.
What to do with this sepulchral space? Rip out that staircase was, of course, the first decision. Then to get light into the space, I would open up three small windows on the second floor to get light from the street and three tall elongated arched windows to bring in more light from the atrium. An anomalous, massive blank wall (7m x7m) in Zanzibar, where an unbroken wall is anathema; arches, windows, doors, columns, arched indentions are de rigeur to the Zanzibari eye. No wall should be left unadorned. Monumental columns, massive blank walls, soaring ceilings are emblems of Luxor and are integral to the opera set, as in the two-story stage of "Aida," Act IV, scene II. Granted our stage is of a smaller scale, but for a bedroom, it is grandiose. With this vision in mind, the fantasy of Aida took hold.
Mentally rifling through my collection of old furniture, I flashed on a huge anthropomorphic bed, featuring great lion's feet and the gods Horus and Hathor atop its columns. This would be the center piece of the main bedroom. Lions, associated with sunset and sunrise, ruled the horizons and the perimeters of this bed. Hathor, associated with lionesses, Mistress of Heaven and goddess of music, love, happiness and beauty shares her perch atop the columns with Horus, the protector and guide, ruler of the sun and moon. This altar to the gods is so high, I had to put two antique Zanzibari chests next to the bed so guests could climb onto it. When you lie down, it feels as if you're being carried on a canopied litter or floating down the Nile on a barge, under the protection of the god and goddess. Perfect for a good night's sleep.