opera by Giuseppe Verdi

About Performance

– Synthesis of the Italian operatic romance  –
Three years after he had written Don Carlos, on July 16, 1870, in a letter to his friend, Verdi wrote: “As I have already told you I am busy. Well, guess with what? I am composing an opera for Cairo! I shall not go there to stage it: I am afraid of being mummified down there”. However, he was not mummified, he was  - glorified. Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, commissioned Verdi to write an opera for the new Оpera House at Cairo, to be performed for the first time on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal. Archeologist Edouard Mariette Bey, famous for his excavations at Memphis and Thebes wrote the rough draft of the story. Camille du Locle, a former director of the Opera Comique, Verdi’s collaborator on the libretto for Don Carlos, dramatized this text. Finally, Antonio Ghislanzoni, poet, journalist and novelist made of it an opera libretto, with certain interventions made by composer himself. Verdi visited Cairo and Egypt in order to experience an ambient and to get inspiration on the spot. After only four months, within an unbelievable short period of time, in the middle of November 1870, the score of Aida was ready. Scenery and costumes were made in Paris, special “Aida-fanfares” were designed for grand triumphal scene, main roles were assigned, and Aida was performed for the first time on December 24, 1871 at the new Opera House at Cairo, with a great success. That triumph was repeated at La Scala, on February 8, 1872 (thirty-two recalls!). Shortly afterwards, Aida was premiered and brilliantly received at the main Italian and European stages (at the Berlin Royal Opera on April 20, 1874, two days later at the Paris Grand Opera, and by the end of April at the Vienna State Opera). Verdi requested Ghislanzoni to write a text that would clearly show and describe the situation, and that could inspire him to express musically, with persuasive strength,  basic human emotions and passions such as: happiness, sadness, love, hate, curse, revenge and death. Beyond doubt, Ghislanzoni’s libretto enabled him to create a firm music dramaturgy, which deepest purpose was to express the depth of the human soul in the music and through the music. Set pattern of  the French grand opera, applied to Aida, consistent and effective, but in a way empty and shallow, Verdi enriches with deep human drama based on the conflicts between human passions and tragic dualism between love and patriotism. Realist by his artistic method, Verdi illustrates, within the romantic plot, things, events and characters concisely and persuasively, giving their genuine nature. In that way Verdi’s opera becomes “character opera”. Regardless of the fact that in Verdi’s scores orchestra is not anymore only simplified accompaniment of the melodic line but it shapes the characters, emphasizes the dramatic moments, gives the impression of the landscape and atmosphere of the scene, yet, in the spirit of true Italian tradition, the main expressive factor remains the sung melodic line, which carries the dramatic power,  and influences and enriches the other elements of musical and dramatic expression. The most touching drama realized through the unforgettable sound, musical-scenic piece that expresses a synthesis of the Italian operatic romance, Verdi’s Aida was and still is one of the most attractive pieces of the large opera repertoire. Celeste Aida! 

B. Dragutinović

(Important years and periods)
October 10, 1813    Verdi is born in Le Roncole, Parma. 1832-1835  He studies music with V. Lavigna in Milan. 1839  His debut at La Scala with OBERTO, Conte di San Bonifacio. 1842  Premiere of NABUCCO, opera that brought him international success. 1843  Premiere of the opera THE LOMBARDS ON THE FIRST CRUSADE, in which, as well as in the next two, Verdi expresses ideas of patriotism and national-liberation. 1844  Premiere of the opera ERNANI - Verdi speaks from “the very soul of the people” striving for freedom and unification; he gets a nickname „Maestro della Revolutione“ („Viva Verdi - VivaVittorio Emanuele Re d’Italia!“). 1845  Premiere of the opera JEANNE D’ARC (based on Schiller). 1847   Premiere of the opera MACBETH (based on Shakespeare). 1849   Premiere of the opera LUISA MILLER (based on Schiller). 1851-1853 The most prolific period in his career, he writes RIGOLETTO (based on V. Hugo), IL TRAVATORE and LA TRAVIATA (based on A. Dumas, fils) – pieces demonstrating his gift for shaping the characters and creating the dramatic plot through the unique musical-dramatic line. 1855-1867 Under the influence of the French Opera, he writes pieces with mass scenes and big spectacles: THE SICILIAN VESPERS, SIMON BOCCANEGRA, A MASKED BALL, THE POWER OF DESTINY, DON CARLOS. 1871  The highest point of his career: The Cairo premiere of AIDA  – Verdi’s most complex opera, both for the harmony between musical shape and dramatic content, as well as for virtuosity in singing parts and in orchestration. 1887   Premiere of the opera OTHELLO (based on Shakespeare). 1893   Premiere of the opera FALSTAFF (based on Shakespeare). January 27, 1901 Verdi dies in Milan.

Peter Leonard has been Intendant (Artistic Director) of the Volkstheater Rostock and the North German Philharmonic since 2008. He has guest conducted orchestras throughout North America, including the New York Philharmonic.  He has conducted dozens of German orchestras as well.  Other international appearances have included Mexico City’s famed OrquestaFilarmonica de la UNAM, the Belgrade Philharmonic and the Pusan Philharmonic.  An active opera conductor, Mr. Leonard’s love for singing and singers informs every moment of his work, so that his interpretations of the Italian masters (especially Verdi and Donizetti) have been particularly prized.  To critical acclaim, he also led the world premiere of the complete version of BohuslavMartinu’spathbreaking “film opera” Les troissouhaits.Among the many composers whose music Mr. Leonard has premiered are Copland, Crumb, Egk, Finney, Holst, Hovhaness, Korn, Martinu, Maw, Pasatieri, Rorem, Thomas, Thorne, Wilder and Zwilich.At the close of the 2001-2002 season, Peter Leonard completed a distinguished seven-year tenure as General Music Director of the City of Augsburg, Germany.  During this time, he presided over world and German premieres of both opera and symphonic repertoire, highlighted by a path-breaking new production of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen. Bravo Cable Network and Ovation Magazine have honored him with commendations for outstanding contributions to American musical life, and Stereo Reviewnamed one of his discs a “Recording of Special Merit.”Peter Leonard has recorded for Albany, CRI, Opus One, Painted Smiles, Premiere Recordings and The Louisville Orchestra’s First Edition Records. Born and raised in the Boston area, Peter Leonard moved to New York to study at The Juilliard School, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  He was chosen by the celebrated Jean Morel for the school’s highly selective conducting program.  He was the recipient of prestigious awards for advanced study at the Aspen Music Festival, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, Tanglewood and Bayreuth.

Ognjan Dimitrov Draganov was born in 1964, in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. He received his Master’s Degree from the Department of Opera Directing at the Bulgarian Music Academy in 1997. In his career, he was engaged at the following positions: The Sofia National Opera as a stage manager (1986–1991), assistant director (for Albert-Andre Lheureux and Plamen Kartaloff, 1989–1996), opera stage director at the Sofia National Opera (1996–2002), vice-manager of the Sofia National Opera (1998–2002), general manager of the Balkan Opera Network-association (2003–05) and since 2005, general Manager of Music House V’AMO and New Europe Symphony Orchestra and since 2012, opera stage director of State Opera Ruse, Bulgaria. He has directed numerous opera productions in Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, Macedonia, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Brazil, Columbia. His productions: G. Verdi – Rigoletto (“Euro Stage” Touring Company, Holland; Sarajevo National Opera), Il Trovatore (”Euro Stage” Touring Company and Оpera Enshede, Holland; Opera Festival in Belem, Brazil), Aida (”Euro Stage” Touring Company; Timisoara National Opera), Nabucco (Macedonian National Opera; National Theatre Opera in Belgrade), La Traviata (Oss , Holland; Timisoara National Opera); G. Pucini – Madam Butterfly (Theatre “Luxor”, Rotterdam), La Boheme (Opera “Ovideo”, Constanca), Tosca (Macedonian National Opera; National Opera in Timisoara; Iasi National Opera, Romania); A. Jossifov – Max and Moritz, Maya the bee, Pinocchio for Sofia National Opera. G. Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor (”Euro Stage” Touring Company; Sofia National Opera; Bucharest National Opera; National Theatre in Madeline, Columbia), L’Elisir d’amore (Enshede, Holland; Co production CEE Musiktheater Vienna–Timisora–Sarajevo), Don Pasqualle (Sarajevo National  Opera); V. Bellini – Norma (National Opera Bogotá, Columbia); G. B. Pergolesi – La Serva padrona (Belem Opera Festival, Brazil); B. Bartok – Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (Stara Zagora State Opera); Johann Strauss  –  Die Fledermaus (State Opera Konstanza, Romania)


Premiere performance

Premiere 10. April 2013. / Main stage

Opera in four acts (7 scenes) | Libretto Antonio Ghislanzoni
First performance: in Cairo on 24 December 1871, on occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal
Conductor Peter Leonard, g.a. / Đorđe Pavlović
Director Ognian Dimitrov Draganoff, g.a.
Set Designers Dejan Miladinović & Miraš Vuksanović
Costume Designer Milanka Berberović
Costume Designer Associate Katarina Grčić Nikolić
Choreographer Konstantin Kostjukov
Selection Of Video Materials Dejan Miladinović
Video Production Petar Antonović

Premiere Cast:

The King Of Egypt Stefan Pavlović / Mihailo Šljivić
Amneris, His Daughter Jelena Vlahović / Nataša Jović Trivić / Dragana Del Monako / Jadranka Jovanović
Aida, Slave  Jasmina Trumbetaš Petrović / Ana Rupčić  / Sanja Kerkez
Radames, Egyptian Warrior Janko Sinadinović / Hon Li / Dušan Plazinić
Ramfis, Egyptian High Priest Ivan Tomašev / Nenad Jakovljević / Slavko Sekulić
Amonasro, The King Of Ethiopia, Aida’s Father Miodrag D. Jovanović / Aleksandar Stamatović
Messenger Nenad Čiča / Danilo Stošić
Priestess Ivanka Raković Krstonošić / Biljana Soldo / Tatjana Mitić / Marija Mitić Vasić

Priests, priestesses, solders, Ethiopian slaves, Egyptian people
With Orchestra, Choir, Ballet Company and extras of The National Theatre in Belgrade

Ballet Soloists Milica Jević, Nada Stamatović, Smiljana Stokić / Ivana Savić, Olivera Gavrilov, Tijana Šebez (III Scene)
Milica Jević, Miloš Marjan / Ivana Savić, Lloyd Petchey (IV Scene)
With Participation Of Students Of “Lujo Davičo” Ballet School In The Third Scene
AssIstant Choreographer Milica Bezmarević
Students Trained By Lidija Pavlović
The action takes place in Memphis and Thebes, in the time of the Pharaohs
Chorus Master Đorđe Stanković
Concert Masters Edit Makedonska / Vesna Jansens
Stage Music Đorđe Stanković
Music Associates Srđan Jaraković, Ivan Jovanović, Nevena Živković, Nada Matijević, Tatjana Ščerbak Pređa
Stage Managers Branislava Pljaskić, Ana Milićević
Prompters Silvija Pec, Biljana Manojlović
Producers Maša Milanović Minić, Snježana Vujasinović Đorđević
Libretto subtitles translation Dejan Mitrović
Deputy Stage Director Ivana Dragutinović Maričić
Assistant Director Branislava Pljaskić
Make-Up Dragoljub Jeremić
Lighting operator Srđan Mićević
Stage Crew Chief Zoran Mirić   
Sound operator Tihomir Savić