Aida, Baths of Caracalla
The legend of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida grew even before it had its premiere, which had to be postponed on the occasion of the Franco-Prussian War. When the conflict sparked, the Maestro had already invested close to two years’ work into this masterpiece. For him, it would prove programmatic: for the first time, he would achieve his vision of music being the main narrative device in opera. In the ambience of the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Aida feels right at home and shines with new light.
Aida tells the story of an Ethiopian princess of the same name who is captured by the Egyptian military commander Radamès and brought back to Cairo as a prisoner. The two begin developing feelings for each other, much to the dismay of Amneris, the daughter of the King of Egypt who is deeply in love with Radamès. As emotions start boiling over, the commander faces the choice between following his heart and serving his country. The inevitable conflict features some of Verdi’s most technically challenging and impressive vocal lines, a true joy for the avid opera listener.
Verdi composed Aida at the request of Isma’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, to inaugurate the brand-new opera house in Cairo. The Maestro teamed up with librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni and crafted a true masterpiece, in which music took the centre stage and moved the plot forward with dramatic flair and skilful characterisation. Despite Verdi’s best efforts, the planned premiere had to be postponed because the opera’s costumes and complicated sets were trapped in the Siege of Paris.
When it finally graced the stage of the Khedivial Opera House on 24 December 1871, Aida was a smashing success. Fantastic arias such as ‘Celeste Aida’ and ensembles like the ‘Triumphal March’ make it a timeless classic. In the storied venue of Terme di Caracalla in Rome, Aida feels right at home.