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Originally commissioned to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal and the opening of Cairo’s new opera house, Verdi’s Egyptian epic Aida is here seen in a spectacular new staging in the Teatro Regio Torino by the Oscar-winning American film director William Friedkin, creator of such famous movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection.
The cast features American soprano Kristin Lewis who has been heralded for her “remarkable voice, which she uses with powerful dramatic instinct” (La Stampa), and Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, whose Amneris “dominates the stage with her dark, rounded, irresistible voice and extraordinary stage presence” (La Gazzetta Musicale).
Gianandrea Noseda leading the Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino received accolaides from all: “he controls everything- orchestra, singers, chorus, dancers, acrobats- with an all-encompassing overview.” (La Stampa) “he knows exactly when it’s time to linger over a timbre, a color, an expressive chord.” (Corriere della Sera)
This grandest of grand operas, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida features an epic backdrop for what is in essence an intimate love story set in ancient Egypt packed with magnificent choruses, dramatic arias, complex ensembles and elaborate ballets. The opera is, at its core, a profound exploration of the conflict of private emotion and public duty.
The score of this 4-act opera is a sophisticated example of Italian Romanticism as heard in the “Celeste Aida” right at the beginning of Act I, her impassioned “Ritorna vincitor!” that follows and her great internal journey, “Qui Radamès verrà! O patria mia” in Act III. At the center of Act II, is the great Triumphal Scene, which ranks among opera’s most celebrated moments.
Notable performances include a 1955 production conducted by Tullio Serafin with Maria Callas as Aida and Richard Tucker as Radamès, as well as a 1959 performance conducted by Herbert van Karajan with Renata Tebaldi as Aida and Carlo Bergonzi as Radamès.
Today the work holds a central place in the operatic canon, receiving performances every year around the world.
At the Metropolitan Opera alone, Aida has been performed more than 1,500 times since 1886 and was presented again in the Met’s 2018–19 season.
Aida was commissioned by and first performed at Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House on December 24, 1871.
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