Honour. Jealousy. Hate. Love. Sacrifice. A chance at life. Death. Pharaohs and slaves. All ingredients of a magnetic story. All elements of Aida, an opera in four parts composed by Giuseppe Verdi and librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni performed in Italian with English surtitles, which plays at the Dubai Opera from February 14-17.
Brought to the city by the Polish National Opera, the tale follows Nubian princess Aida and her love, a young Egyptian warrior called Radames, who must decide between their feelings for one another and loyalty to country. Set in ancient Egypt, with the backdrop of war and honour shadowing human equations, Aida is perhaps set up from the start to be tragic. But it also explores the fragility — and therefore the beauty — of those connections, paying homage to the rocky path of life. It was, by some accounts, the major reason for the composer’s interest in the project — he was drawn to the exploration of universal emotions (a fact evident in many of his other masterpieces including La traviata).
Ahead of the show, Gulf News tabloid! looks at some fun facts about the opera.
1. “You may have the universe if I may have Italy,” said Giuseppe Verdi, the composer of Aida. The prolific writer died at age 87 in 1901, having written 28 operas. One of his last was the tale of love and tragedy, Aida (1871). His last was Falstaff, written in 1893.
2. Aida was released in a year of great turbulence — its release was delayed by the breakout of the Franco-Prussian War. But it was also the year other classics came on to the scene. Both Lewis Carroll’s Alice through the Looking Glass and George Eliot’s Middlemarch were released the same year.
3. Coincidence or thorough research? About 50 years after Verdi composed Triumphal March, two horns were found in the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen — one tuned to A-flat, the other in B, notes that feature prominently in the tune.
4. Commissioned by the ruler of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha, to debut at the Khedival Opera House in Cairo, Aida was to come with a pay cheque of then 150,000 francs. The play was completed by Verdi in just four months.
5. Elton John composed the music and Tim Rice the lyrics for a musical based on Aida in 1998. The show hit Broadway in 2000, with a 2,000-show run. Eventually, it won the duo a Tony Award for Best Score.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets for Aida, which runs between February 14 and 17 at the Dubai Opera, start at Dh350.