»5 FUN FACTS ABOUT AIDA«
Aida was commissioned to celebrate the new Khedival Opera of Cairo
It is often said that Aida was commissioned in the 1860’s by the Viceroy of Egypt, Ismaïl Pacha, to inaugurate the new Suez Canal. It is more likely that the work was commissioned for the inauguration of the new Khedivial Opera in Cairo. Unfortunately, Aida was not ready for the opening of the Opera House and Rigoletto was performed instead. There were several reasons for this delay. Firstly, Verdi was behind his composition. Secondly, the set and costumes that were supposed to travel from Paris to Cairo are blocked in the capital because of the siege in Paris during the French-Prussian war (1870-1871). Aida finally has its premiere in Cairo on the 24 December 1871 and the following month in La Scala Milan.
A turning point in Verdi’s operas
Although Verdi did not attend the premiere in Cairo, the composer was at the Italian premiere carefully supervising every detail - from the set up of the instruments to the stage design. While his earlier works put emphasis on the voice, Aida appears as a turning point in his use of the orchestra. Verdi was without doubt influenced by Wagner, even though the latter’s music had not really reached Italy yet. Verdi only knew some extracts but was nonetheless impressed. Although their artistic conceptions diverge, Verdi felt the necessity to differentiate himself from the German composer.
Teresa Stolz: a Verdian soprano for Aida
Teresa Stolz, Italian soprano born in 1834, was one of Verdi’s favorite singers who sang in many operas accross Italy, including the roles of: Elisabetta in the Italian version of Don Carlo in Bologna in 1867, Leonora in La forza del destino in 1869 at La Scala. So it was that Verdi wrote Aida for her. But too expensive for the Cairo Opera, Teresa Stolz finally sang the title role a month and a half later, for the European premiere of Aida at La Scala on 8 February 1872.
An incredible world triumph
››Let’s not talk about this Aida anymore. It brought me a lot of money, but also it brought me endless troubles and great artistic disillusions!‹‹ Verdi confessed in one of his letters to his editor Tito Ricordi. Whatever the composer’s regrets, Aida was a huge international success. It was performed in many Italian cities – Palermo, Padova, Florence – and beyond; not only in Europe – Berlin, Vienna – but also American in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston. Operas are seldom such an immediate success.
A modern staging from the Royal Swedish Opera far from the world of swords and sandals.
Far from the Egypt of the pharaohs and the usual pomp of Aida, Director Michael Cavanagh chooses to anchor the story in the 21st century. His is a topical world where there are wars and political crises; where ethnicity and religion divides. Two rising opera stars, the soprano Christina Nilsson and the tenor Ivan Defabiani shine in this new production.
– Text by OperaVision
Aida on OperaVision
On the 17th of March Aida was broadcasted live for the first time on OperaVision, the new platform for live streaming. The performance from the Royal Swedish Opera will be available on the plattform until the 16th of September.
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