Aida Antonio Ghislanzoni Auguste Mariette, Bey Cairo 1873
Leontyne Price, Rita Gorr, Carlo Bergonzi, Mario Sereni, Cesare Siepi. Georg Solti conducts. Metropolitan Opera broadcast, December 7, 1963
One British critic wrote, "Aida brings out the epicurean." Spare me. Here's a four act opera set in the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Dark body paint, walk-like-an-Egyptian, all singing away in Italian. Are you dying
laughing? No one ever was. Aida has not one spare note of music.
Aida was my first. Do you remember yours. It wasn't the initial "sigh of the violins" that got me, but the low strings introducing the second theme in the prelude.
Aida introduced me to great voices and to drama. With no sense of the plot and no Italian , anyone can feel something else is about to happen. Something dangerous. There's a lot of urgency of this music. Even at its most seductive and romantic, there is always the sense that something is about to happen
Verdi gives us splendor unparalleled in opera, and a sad, gorgeous death scene, all in the same score.
and there's no topping Verdi's triumphal scene. The composer doesn't give even try. Verdi gives us a finale of deep quiet and beauty:
I remember in particular two productions of Aida. One in 1980. The Opera Company of Boston. Sarah Caldwell staged and conducted the work for Shirley Verrett. Verrett was going through her "I'm a soprano" phase, with hits and misses. Her Aida was a hit. At least as I heard it. She was regal, she was tragic and her
Aida, the opera of humanity. Viva Verdi!