Giuseppe Verdi

Aida, opera

    Description by Richard LeSueur

    In 1869, a new opera house opened in Cairo with Verdi's Rigoletto. The Khedive wanted a more spectacular opera done there, so he commissioned a new work from Verdi. A libretto was prepared by Antonio Ghislanzoni based on a French synopsis by Camille du Locle. Verdi worked very closely with Ghislanzoni on the form and the exact text of the libretto, and at all times urged that conventional forms be abandoned if they did not serve any dramatic purpose. The premiere in Cairo was delayed from January until December 1871 because the set designs and costumes were trapped in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. The opera was an immediate success, but Verdi continued to revise the score. He composed a full overture for the Teatro alla Scala premiere, but discarded it before the performances took place; however, the extension of the ballet music for the Paris premiere was incorporated into the printed score.

    The score to Aida is the culmination of all of Verdi's earlier struggle to let the music advance the plot. The Triumphal March and ballet from Act Two are not just display pieces, but an integral part of the celebrations of a victorious army. Except for this scene, Aida is really a very intimate opera with most scenes requiring only a couple of characters; in fact, a great deal of the choral singing comes from off-stage. The tenor's entrance aria ("Celeste Aida") is a dreamy romance about his beloved Aida, showing the tender side of the warrior. Coming before the tenor has a chance to warm up his voice, it is one of the most difficult entrances in opera. The role of Aida is one of the most gratifying found in any of the Verdi operas. With two important arias plus duets with each of the major characters, the soprano is given the opportunity to display all aspects of her talents. The jealous Amneris joins a long list of important mezzo-soprano roles Verdi created. She is the one who brings various dramatic elements together, and her duet with Radames is one of the great confrontation scenes in opera. Amonasro has the shortest baritone role in any of the late Verdi operas, appearing in only two scenes. He is also the only father in Verdi to put his child in a secondary position; he wants only to win the war with Egypt. The sweep of the score to Aida led many early critics to complain that Verdi had given in to the influence of Wagner, but it really is the culmination of the stylistic experiments which were first heard in La forza del destino, Simon Boccanegra, and Don Carlo. With its famous arias and ensembles, Aida has become one of the most popular operas ever written, and familiarity only brings new details to the listener's attention.

    Parts/Movements

    1. 1. Prelude
    2. 2. Si, corre voce che l'Etiope ardisca
    3. 3a. Se quel guerrier
    4. 3b. Celeste Aida
    5. 4a. Quale insolita gioia
    6. 4b. Vieni o diletta
    7. 5a. Alta cagion v'aduna
    8. 5b. Or di vulcano al tempio
    9. 5c. Sul del Nilo
    10. 6a. Ritorna vincitor!
    11. 6b. L'insana parola
    12. 6c. I sacri nomi
    13. 7a. Possente Possenta - Immenso Fthà!
    14. 7b. Dance of the Priestesses
    15. 7c. Mortal diletto
    16. 8a. Chi mai (Chorus)
    17. 8b. Danza di schiavi mori (Dance of the Moorish slaves)
    18. 9a. Fu la sortè dell' armi
    19. 9b. Amore, amore
    20. 10a. Gloria all' Egitto (Chorus)
    21. 10b. Marcia trionfale (Triumphal March; Grand March)
    22. 10c. Ballabile (Ballet)
    23. 10d. Vieni, o guerriero
    24. 10e. Quest' assisa
    25. 11. O Re, pei scari Numi
    26. 12a. O tu che sei d'Osiride (Chorus)
    27. 12b. Vieni d'Iside
    28. 12c. Qui Radamès verrà
    29. 12d. O patria mia
    30. 13. Ciel mio padre
    31. 14a. Pur' ti riveggo
    32. 14b. Fuggiam gli ardor ... Là, tra foreste vergini
    33. 15a. Introduction
    34. 15b. L'abborita rivale
    35. 15c. Già i sacerdoti
    36. 15d. Misero appien mi festi
    37. 16a. Ohimè morir mi sento
    38. 16b. Spirto del nume'
    39. 17a. La fatal pietra sovra me si chiuse
    40. 17b. Morir sì pura e bella
    41. 18a. Immenso immenso
    42. 18b. O terra addio

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Sony Classical 88985311342
    2016 Metropolitan Opera 811357018224
    2016 Urania WS 121183
    2016 Metropolitan Opera 811357018323
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646106639
    2014 Saifam 10012
    2014 Warner Classics 634097
    2014 Decca 4808168
    2013 Gala Records 100598
    2013 Sony Classical 88883721202
    2013 Opus KURA OPK 7062/63
    2013 Urania / Urania Records 204
    2013 Warner Classics 85402
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099941674
    2012 Krescendo Records / Zebralution
    2012 Cetra 2564662118
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 478 267-9
    2011 Decca 002894782679
    2011 Decca 478358
    2010 Gala Records 100.667
    2010 Myto Historical Line / Myto Records 00242
    2010 EMI Classics
    2010 Urania 33.001
    2010 EMI Classics / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099964063
    2010 Alto / Musical Concepts 2009
    2009 Document 223013
    2009 Document / Documents / Documents Classics 224011
    2009 Opera Fanatic 54
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 001303802
    2009 Documents / Meisterwerke/Membran 222940
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 IDIS / Ital Disc / Ital Disc 6565/6
    2008 Gala Records 100634
    2008 EMI Classics 11973
    2008 Decca 460765
    2008 Myto Historical Line 150
    2008 GOP Great Opera Performances 66369
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 5676132
    2008 Decca 743209
    2007 BRV 9810
    2007 EMI Classics 81877
    2007 Allegro Corporation 9903
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946395918
    2007 Golden Melodram 50067
    2007 Teldec 4643482
    2007 Decca 000830402
    2007 Bel Air Classiques BAC022
    2007 VAI Audio 4420
    2007 BRV 9801
    2006 RCA Red Seal 67893
    2006 Myto Records 64333
    2006 IDIS 6476/77
    2006 Myto Records 62327
    2006 GOP Great Opera Performances 66353
    2006 Capriccio Records 51198
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 58645
    2006 Gala Records 771
    2006 Universal Distribution
    2005 Madacy 50503
    2005 Preiser Records 20042
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 0004582
    2005 Ponto 1028
    2005 Testament 1355
    2005 Urania 22274
    2005 Cascavelle 3014
    2004 Caprice Records 22055
    2003 Preiser Records 20027
    2003 Pearl 191
    2003 Urania 244
    2003 Naxos 8110129-30
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 62678
    2003 Opera D'Oro 7002
    2002 Delta Distribution 14581
    2002 Chandos 3074
    2002 Orfeo 583022
    2002 Myto Records MCD 023267
    2002 Warner Fonit 82642
    2002 Warner Fonit 83010
    2001 Preiser Records 89510
    2001 Opera D'Oro 5004
    2001 Naxos 110156-57
    2001 Lyrica 11103
    2001 Teldec 8573-85402-2
    2001 Arkadia 2026
    2001 Urania 172
    2001 Archipel 20
    2001 Decca / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2001 Preiser Records 20006
    2001 Angel Records 67487
    2001 Urania 190
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67617
    2001 Fono Enterprise 1016
    2001 Fono Enterprise 1031
    2001 Opera D'Oro 1304
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 67449
    2000 Gala Records 100507
    2000 IDIS 343/44
    2000 Myto Records 983186
    2000 Gala Records 100561
    2000 Opera D'Oro 1250
    2000 Myto Records 2043
    2000 Digital Sound 1022
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 EMI/Black Dog 12280
    1999 Vocal Archives 1217
    1999 Decca 460978
    1999 Golden Melodram 2.0035
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78871
    1998 Romophone 89004-2
    1998 Golden Melodram 20015
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1167
    1997 RCA 74321 39498-2
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 56316
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 56246
    1996 Arkadia 78013
    1996 Bella Voce / BellaVoce 107209
    1996 Myto Records 962146
    1996 Phoenix 507
    1995 Naxos 8 660033/4
    1995 Pantheon 6658
    1995 Laserlight 14278
    1995 VAI Audio 1083
    1994 London 440239
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 45973
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 69300
    1990 RCA 6652
    1989 London 417439
    1987 EMI Music Distribution 49030
    1987 London 417416
    1986 EMI Music Distribution 47271
    1983 Deutsche Grammophon 410 092-2GH3
    1983 Deutsche Grammophon
    1959 Decca
    1959 Decca
    Deutsche Grammophon 437000
    RCA 60300
    RCA 6198
    RCA 60326
    Rodolphe 325
    Enterprise 951
    Disky 704072
    Ponto PO 1059
    The Radio Years 62
    Eklipse 53
    EMI Music Distribution 7472718
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 29
    Foyer Records 2018
    Foyer Records 2052
    Myto Historical Line
    London 414087
    EMI Music Distribution 49030
    Preiser Records 90274
    Legato Classics 187
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 127
    Pearl 9402
    Legato Classics 204
    Theorema 121133
    EKR 3
    RCA 60331
    Grammofono 2000 78709
    Phonographe 5004
    Music Memoria 30226
    Golden Age of Opera 116
    Tring 76
    London 414087
    Foyer Records 3004
    Empire 70407
    Sony Classical 45973
    Enterprise 1209
    Le Monde de l'Opera 26