Israeli Opera: Aida

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Aida/Photo: Forster

Aida will be performed at the Israeli Opera in a new production Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels, directed by Stathis Livathinos, Artistic Director of the Greek National Theatre, and conducted by Guiliano Carla. Guiseppe Verdi’s opera, at once majestic and intimate, is one of the most beloved and most performed worldwide. Performances at the Israeli Opera will take place from June 24 – July 9, 2022.

Verdi’s opera, with a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, was commissioned by the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo, and held its premiere there in 1871. The opera is set in Egypt, and explores the tension between national loyalty, filial duty, and romantic love. The Ethiopian princess Aida has been captured by the Egyptians. Radamès, an Egyptian military commander, is in love with Aida, and she returns his love, but their love must remain secret. Amneris, the Egyptian King’s daughter, is also in love with Radamès. Aida’s identity is not known to her captors, and Amonasro, her father, invades Egypt to release her. However, he too is captured in battle, yet his Egyptian captors do not know that their prisoner of war is the King of Ethiopia. The victory is celebrated with a triumphal march, as the Ethiopian captives are led in chains. In gratitude, the King of Egypt appoints Radamès as his successor, with Amneris to be his bride, and grants him any wish.

Radamès wishes for the Ethiopian slave to be freed, and secretly plans to run away with Aida. However, Aida has also been asked by her father to discover the location of the Egyptian army. Torn between father, country, and lover, Aida makes plans with Radamès while her father hides close by, listening to their conversation. As Radamès chooses a safe escape route, he inadvertently reveals the army’s location. Amneris and Ramfis, the high priest of Egypt, witness the conversation and Radamès is accused of treason. Amneris pleads to pardon Radamès, but he is sentenced to death, to be buried alive. Entering the dark vault, Radamès sees Aida waiting for him within, and she dies in his arms.

Aida/Photo: Forster

In this production, Director Stathis Livathinos reflects an awareness of contemporary tension relating to nationalism, exile, and the fight for freedom, with an emphasis on the cost of war – for the victors, as well as those who are defeated. The narrative of war is seen as one of human suffering, brought on by conflicts resulting from ethnic and cultural differences, ego, and the desire for revenge. These themes play out in Aida, where the conflict is between the individual’s desire for love and freedom, and the external pressures of national loyalty. The set design by Alexander Polzin employs ancient Egyptian symbols in a timeless manner, reflecting the universality of the production’s message.

Soloists in this grand production hail from eight different countries. The role of Aida will be alternated between Anna Nechaeva and Monica Zanettin. Leonardo Caimi and Viktor Antipenko will alternate in the role of Radamès. Amneris will be performed by Justina Gringyte alternating with Oksana Volkova. Ionut Pascu and Dimitris Tiliakos will alternate in the role of Ramfis. The Egyptian King will be alternated between Vladimir Braun and Joshua Bloom. Tal Bergman and Shaked Strul will alternate in the role of Priestess, and Eitan Drori will perform the role of Messenger.

Performances will take place Friday, June 24 – Saturday, July 9, 2022 at the Israeli Opera. Additional information and tickets are available on the Israeli Opera website, or call: 03-692777.