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MARIA NOCKIN was at Opera Pacific
for Verdi's 'Aïda'

 

1869 was a banner year for Egypt. The Suez Canal was completed and Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto opened the Cairo Opera House. It was not enough to satisfy the ruler, Khedive Ismail, however. He longed for an Egyptian opera that would put his country on the cultural map. To bring this about, he enlisted the services of French Egyptologist, Auguste Mariette, who was a friend of the librettist Camille du Locle. The latter had worked on Verdi's 1867 work, Don Carlo. Mariette wrote a scenario outlining the plot of Aïda and du Locle passed it on to the composer.

Carl Tanner as Radames, Stefan Szkafarowsky as the King of Egypt, Milena Kitic as Amneris and Angela Brown as Aïda in Act 2 Scene 2 of Verdi's 'Aïda'
Carl Tanner as Radames, Stefan Szkafarowsky as the King of Egypt, Milena Kitic as Amneris and Angela Brown as Aïda in Act 2 Scene 2 of Verdi's 'Aïda'

Verdi was so taken with the exotic subject that he investigated the history, religion and music of the North African country and even experimented with Near Eastern instrumental sounds. Du Locle expanded the scenario into a French libretto. Then, under the composer's close supervision, Antonio Ghislanzoni translated the piece into Italian and rewrote it in verse. The action contains many of Verdi's ideas. For example, showing Amneris with her attendants in the scene before the great triumph is credited to him.

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Copyright © 14 May 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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