Aida, Opera by G. Verdi
Even before it had its premiere at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871, Aida was already somewhat legendary. Giuseppe Verdi had crafted it painstakingly over two years, working very closely with his librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni to let the music take the lead in telling the intricate, exciting story. As the premiere approached, the Franco-Prussian War blocked the costumes and set designs in Paris for 11 months, forcing a delay which Verdi used to make musical changes. Aida now comes to the Gran Teatro La Fenice in its glorious final form.
The plot of Aida revolves around a love triangle. The military commander Radamès sees his loyalties tested as his love for Aida, the kidnapped and enslaved Ehtiopian princess, starts clashing with his allegiance to the King of Egypt. The triangle is completed by Amneris, the King's daughter, who suffers from her unrequited love for Radamès. The three leads stir a moving and emotional narrative, which Verdi's inspired, dramatic score punctuates splendidly.
While composing Aida, Giuseppe Verdi was determined to break with operatic convention wherever possible. Thanks to his dedication to music as the main storytelling device, the opera stands out with its direct, raw emotionality and with the many instances, in which characters reveal themselves to the audience via melody much more than with words.
In that vein, the hardened military commander Radamès makes his entrance with a profoundly romantic and tender aria, which praises his love for Aida. Thanks to its tenderness and technicality, it is one of the most difficult tenor entrances in operatic history, and it is all the more beautiful because of that. Amneris, a mezzo-soprano, also shines with remarkable depth, and her poignant, aggressive duet with Radamès is the stuff of operatic magic.
Aida, the title character, is a soprano's dream role. Alternating between powerful and vulnerable, full-throated and almost sighing, the Ethiopian princess' arias and duets put a singer's full emotional and vocal range on display in a fantastic illustration of Verdi's talent for character-building and melody. Aida's musicality and power have long established it as a pinnacle in the operatic catalogue, and its power and depth will reign the stage of the Gran Teatro La Fenice this season.