Aida: Verdi's Most Intimate Spectacle

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A scene from Act I of Verdi's Aida.

Pharaohs. Mummies. Pyramids. Hieroglyphs. The mystique of ancient Egypt never fades. For more than 2,000 years, Europeans have wondered at her mysteries, and not surprisingly, so did Giuseppe Verdi. Aida premiered in Cairo in 1871, as if to revive the grandeur of the Old Kingdom before the people who conjured it. 

One of the theater’s greatest spectacles, Aida is the definition of grand opera. Its cast is enormous — orchestra, singers, dancers, acrobats, horses, exotic animals — yet its story gives laser focus to the private anguish of just three people. This week on He Sang/She Sang, Merrin Lazyan speaks with stage director David Paul about the surprising intimacy of Verdi’s Aida.

This week's YouTube picks:

Triumphal March from Aida (Metropolitan Opera House, 1989):  

The final duet, "O terra, addio" (Aprile Millo, Plácido Domingo, and Dolora Zajick, 1989):

 This episode features excerpts from the following album:

Verdi: Aida (Sony Classical, 1991)
— Aprile Millo, soprano; Plácido Domingo, tenor; Dolora Zajick, mezzo-soprano; the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by James Levine