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Aida

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Opera in 4 acts
Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni
First performed December 24  1871, Cairo Opera House

Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles
Introductory talk (in German/on video) will appear here shortly before run begins

Aida Guanqun Yu
Radamès Stefano La Colla / Alfred Kim
Amneris Claudia Mahnke
Amonasro Gevorg Hakobyan
Ramfis Kihwan Sim
The King Anthony Robin Schneider
Priestess Angela Vallone
Messenger Hans-Jürgen Lazar

Wars are as old as mankind. Political movements, nations are constantly goaded into fighting the so called enemy.

In the Egypt of Verdi’s Aida Ramfis – High Priest to the goddess Isis, who is to appoint who shall lead the Egyptian army against the Ethiopians – acts alongside the King as ruler, keeping the war machinery running. Isis chooses young Radamès, in whom the King’s daughter and their prisoner, the Ethiopian King’s daughter Aida, are both in love.

Aida came into being for Egypt - then a province of the Ottoman Empire - , belatedly fulfilling Francophile Khediven Ismail Pascha’s dream. He modernised the region, which was striving for autonomy, by providing railways, telephone networks and street lighting, had an opera house built based on a French model and carried out the project of the century, the Suez Canal. For its opening ceremony Ismail Pascha wanted to commission a work by Giuseppe Verdi – preferably an opera. The composer turned the offer down, but the viceroy stuck to his guns, even after the Suez Canal and the opera house were opened in 1869. Verdi eventually relented after the French author and archeologist Auguste Mariette, upon whose scenario the work was based, intervened.

The historical fiction in Aida  exuded the idea of national supremacy, so omnipresent in the 19th century, disastrous in the 20th and now terrifyingly growing in strength again. Contrapuntal moments reflect the rigid theocratic structure of society in ancient Egypt, while the characters’ emotions are realised in intimate scenes, carried by lyrical intensity. Lydia Steier is re-developing her Theater Heidelberg production, investigating the machinery of power, the protagonists' fears, impossibility of their relationships and the inability to fit in with social order.