Aida, 1871

Our production, Friday June 29th

Not at the Courthouse. See email for venue. La Scala 1985. Cond - Lorin Maazel. Aida - Maria Chiara, Radames - Luciano Pavarotti, Amneris - Ghena Dinitrova.

The characters

It’s another romantic triangle but also a political one war hero Radamès devoted to his native Egypt as well as to Aida, whose allegiance -and he honours it - is to her beloved Ethiopia. The third corner is the Egyptian princess, Amneris. The archetypical heroine and hero are unchanging – with wonderful music expressing their fidelity. This leaves dramatic character development to Amneris, regarded as Verdi’s finest part for a mezzo (but remember Alcuzena).  Here’s Amneris’ fiery Act 1V duet with Radames -  Jon Vickers and Giulietta Simionato:  1964 (below). No subtitles necessary!

 A bit of history

How to open an opera house! Aida was commissioned to open the oldest opera house in Africa, the Royal Opera House in Cairo, built to celebrate the Suez Canal.  Actually Rigoletto was the first performance – Aida, delayed by the Franco-Prussian war, followed in 1871.

The music

Glorious, melodic, dramatic – this is Verdi returning to music portraying character. “Aida would have been impossible had it not been for Verdi’s experience of writing Don Carlos for the Paris Opéra. Aida is essentially a French grand opera in the Meyerbeer tradition, but sung in Italian.” Read why here Silence for the prelude! Here’s Valeriy Gherghiev conducting it at the Mariinsky Theatre, 1995. Take time to read about “Celeste Aida”, the tenor’s opening aria – with five famous renditions here (scroll down a bit). The link to Kaufmann is missing – try this one for incredible gentleness.