Opera Scotland

Aïda

Tours by decade

1890s - 1 tour

1892 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1900s - 3 tours

1907 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1908 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1909 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1910s - 5 tours

1910 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1914 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1915 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1916 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1917 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1920s - 12 tours

1920 - Beecham Grand Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1921 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1922 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1922 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1923 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1924 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1925 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1926 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1927 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1928 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1930s - 1 tour

1938 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1950s - 5 tours

1950 - Covent Garden Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1952 - Covent Garden Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1953 - Covent Garden Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1955 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1955 - Dundee Operatic Society
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1960s - 1 tour

1963 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1980s - 2 tours

1986 - Tayside Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1987 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1990s - 2 tours

1992 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1999 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

2000s - 6 tours

2002 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2003 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2004 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2007 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2009 - Ellen Kent Productions
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2009 - Metropolitan Opera
Cinema Screening

2010s - 6 tours

2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Cinema Screening
2013 - UNICEF UK
Concert performance
2013 - Ellen Kent Productions
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2014 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2017 - Ellen Kent Productions
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2019 - Opera North
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location

Scotland, UK - 95 entries

1892 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1892 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Edinburgh
1907 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Glasgow
1908 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Glasgow
1908 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Aberdeen
1908 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Dundee
1909 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Edinburgh
1909 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Aberdeen
1909 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Dundee
1909 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Glasgow
1910 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Aberdeen
1910 - Moody-Manners Opera Company
Dundee
1914 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1915 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1915 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Edinburgh
1916 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Edinburgh
1916 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1917 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1917 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Edinburgh
1920 - Beecham Grand Opera Company
Glasgow
1921 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1922 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Aberdeen
1922 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1922 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1922 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Dundee
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Greenock
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1923 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Perth
1923 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Aberdeen
1923 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Aberdeen
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Greenock
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Glasgow
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Edinburgh
1924 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1924 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1924 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Dundee
1925 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1925 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1926 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1926 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1927 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1927 - British National Opera Company
Edinburgh
1927 - British National Opera Company
Aberdeen
1927 - British National Opera Company
Dundee
1928 - British National Opera Company
Aberdeen
1928 - British National Opera Company
Glasgow
1938 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Glasgow
1950 - Covent Garden Opera
Edinburgh
1952 - Covent Garden Opera
Glasgow
1953 - Covent Garden Opera
Edinburgh
1955 - Dundee Operatic Society
Dundee
1955 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Glasgow
1963 - Glasgow Grand Opera Society
Glasgow
1986 - Tayside Opera
Dundee
1987 - Scottish Opera
Glasgow
1987 - Scottish Opera
Edinburgh
1987 - Scottish Opera
Aberdeen
1992 - Scottish Opera
Glasgow
1992 - Scottish Opera
Inverness
1992 - Scottish Opera
Edinburgh
1992 - Scottish Opera
Aberdeen
1999 - Scottish Opera
Edinburgh
1999 - Scottish Opera
Glasgow
2002 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Dundee
2003 - Scottish Opera
Glasgow
2004 - Scottish Opera
Glasgow
2004 - Scottish Opera
Edinburgh
2007 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Edinburgh
2007 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Dundee
2007 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Aberdeen
2007 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Glasgow
2009 - Ellen Kent Productions
Edinburgh
2009 - Ellen Kent Productions
Aberdeen
2009 - Ellen Kent Productions
Dundee
2009 - Ellen Kent Productions
Glasgow
2009 - Metropolitan Opera
Aberdeen
2009 - Metropolitan Opera
Galashiels
2009 - Metropolitan Opera
Edinburgh
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Aberdeen
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Galashiels
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Edinburgh
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Dundee
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Glasgow
2012 - Metropolitan Opera
Falkirk
2013 - UNICEF UK
Glasgow
2013 - Ellen Kent Productions
Glasgow
2014 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Aberdeen
2014 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Edinburgh
2014 - Chisinau National Opera, Moldova
Dundee
2017 - Ellen Kent Productions
Glasgow
2017 - Ellen Kent Productions
Edinburgh
2019 - Opera North
Edinburgh

England, UK - 3 entries

1987 - Scottish Opera
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
1992 - Scottish Opera
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
2004 - Scottish Opera
Liverpool

Music
Giuseppe Verdi (born Busseto, 10 October 1813; died Milan, 27 January 1901)

Text
Antonio Ghislanzoni.

Source
French text by Camille du Locle, adapted from an idea by the Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.

Premières
First performance: Cairo (Opera House), 24 December 1871.
First UK performance: London (Covent Garden), 26 June 1876.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 2 May1892
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 15 September 1987.

Background
Aïda has always been one of the most popular of Verdi’s works. It was commissioned to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal and of the Cairo Opera House, both events happening in 1869. It has gained a reputation for grandeur of design and execution that is not entirely appropriate. While productions in grand locations such as the Verona Arena or the pyramids have a certain interest due to the spectacular site, most of the action is in fact quite intimate, and does not necessarily gain from the introduction of large numbers of extras or livestock.

The basis of the plot is quite traditional; firstly two women in love with the same man, and secondly the conflict between love and patriotic duty. Right from the early planning stage, Verdi was determined to employ as much local colour as he could, to make the opera as exotically different as possible. In this way he made the sound world of Aida very different from his previous operas and quite distinctive.

Main Characters
Ramfis, Egyptian High Priest (bass)
Radamès, a captain in the Egyptian army (tenor)
Amneris, daughter of the Egyptian King (mezzo-soprano)
Aïda, an Ethiopian slave in service to Amneris (soprano)
The King of Egypt (bass)
Messenger (tenor)
Priestess (soprano)
Amonasro, Ethiopian King, father of Aïda (baritone)

Plot Summary
Events take place in or near Memphis, capital of ancient Egypt. Aïda has been captured and attached to Amneris’s household. She and Radamès have met and fallen in love, though he is also loved by Amneris. A further phase of war commences, and Radamès is delighted to learn that he is to lead the Egyptian army.

The victorious Egyptian army returns. Amneris anticipates this with joy and tricks Aida into admitting she also loves Radamès. In the grand triumph scene that follows, Aida recognises her father, disguised, among the prisoners. Amonasro begs for mercy on behalf of the Ethiopians, and the crowd join in, supported by Radamès. The King then announces that Radamès will marry Amneris as his reward for victory.

Amonasro persuades Aïda to trick Radamès into revealing military secrets. They are overheard, and in a dramatic trial scene Radamès is condemned as a traitor. Amonasro having been killed, Aïda joins Radamès as he is buried alive, and Amneris is left alone to mourn.

RECORDINGS

SONY (2 bargain-price CDs) Sung in Italian Recorded 1955

Conductor: Jonel Perlea
Rome Opera Orchestra
Zinka Milanov (Aïda), Jussi Bjorling (Radamès), Fedora Barbieri (Amneris).

It may seem perverse with a work such as Aïda, which apparently demands the best possible sound quality, to recommend an elderly recording such as this. However, the performance really is very special indeed. Bjorling sings with a glorious golden tone which no tenor since has quite matched, and even at the end of career Zinka Milanov could still produce extraordinary soft high notes which are essential for any soprano attempting Aida. In addition to Barbieri, the cast also includes Leonard Warren as Amonasro, Boris Christoff as an implacable Ramfis, and Plinio Clabassi as the King.

DECCA (2 bargain-price CDs) Sung in Italian Recorded 1962

Conductor: Georg Solti Rome Opera Orchestra Leontyne Price (Aïda), Jon Vickers (Radamès), Rita Gorr (Amneris).

If there was a soprano in the next generation who could rival Milanov with soft high singing it was surely Leontyne Price, and this first recording of Aïda has plenty of atmosphere. Solti’s conducting may not be as subtle as some; Robert Merrill (Amonasro) and Giorgio Tozzi (Ramfis) may not be as impressive as Warren and Christoff; but Rita Gorr is a superb fire-eating Amneris, and Plinio Clabassi pops up again as the King.

OPUS ARTE (1 DVD) Sung in Italian Recorded 1994

Conductor: Edward Downes; Director: Elijah Moshinsky; Designer: Michael Yeargan
Orchestra of Royal Opera House
Cheryl Studer (Aïda), Dennis O’Neill (Radamès), Luciana d’Intino (Amneris).

This staging seems not to have pleased the punters at the Royal Opera House, and it was never revived. This is a pity, since it is a clever staging, and remarkably lacking in frills. The emphasis is all on the drama, and all the better for that. The solo artists all have markedly lighter voices than those on display half a century ago, but that seems to be an inevitable trend today. In any event Studer and O’Neill both sing beautifully. Amonasro is sung by Alexandru Agache, and Ramfis and the King by two sterling basses, Robert Lloyd and Mark Beesley. Edward Downes never conducted any complete operas in the studio, which seems utterly bizarre. However he was a masterly Verdi conductor and fortunately several of his performances at Covent Garden have been preserved on DVD.

 

The Cast

Aïda
 an Ethiopian slave
Amneris
 daughter of the King of Egypt
Amonasro
 King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda
Dancer
 
King of Egypt
 
Messenger
 
Priestess
 
Radamès
 Captain of the Guard
Ramfis
 High Priest

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