Aida – The Bridgewater Hall – Tuesday 4 June at 7.30pm
Opera North return to Manchester in June with a concert staging of Verdi’s Egyptian epic, Aida, last performed by the Company over 20 years ago. The production reunites the creative team behind our critically-acclaimed Turandot including director Annabel Arden, designer Joanna Parker and conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, and marks Opera North’s long-awaited return to The Bridgewater Hall. The title role will be sung by Colombian soprano Alexandra Zabala with Rafael Rojas taking the role of the Egyptian general, Radamès, her lover.
The latest in Opera North’s series of groundbreaking concert stagings of large-scale operas, Verdi’s Aida opened at Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday 1 May, before embarking on an extensive tour visiting the Midlands, the North and Scotland.
The team behind the Company’s acclaimed concert staging of Turandot, Olivier Award-winning opera and theatre director Annabel Arden, designer Joanna Parker and leading conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, will reunite for Verdi’s Egyptian epic.
Egypt is at war with Ethiopia. Aida, daughter of the Ethiopian king, has been captured by the Egyptians. Secretly, she loves an Egyptian general, Radamès, and he returns her love. When Radamès is selected to lead a renewed assault against the enemy, Aida is forced to choose between betraying her country and betraying her heart.
Colombian soprano Alexandra Zabala takes the role of the captive princess Aida, and as her lover Radamès, Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas returns to Opera North following his highly praised Cavaradossi in last Autumn’s Tosca. American baritone Eric Greene takes the role of his adversary, Aida’s father Amonasro, King of Ethiopia, with Alessandra Volpe as Aida’s rival for the love of Radamès, the Egyptian princess Amneris.
Finnish bass Petri Lindroos sings the High Priest Ramfis, and as the King of Egypt, Michael Druiett returns to Opera North for the first time since his Wotan in 2016’s Das Rheingold.
Although it is best known for the grandiosity and imperialism of set pieces like the famous Triumphal March, at Aida’s heart is a web of intimate personal relationships between people caught in the crossfire of international conflict, ending with a profound prayer for peace. Its leading characters are as conflicted as the war-torn world they inhabit, and for the doomed lovers, Radamès and Aida, Verdi reserved some of his finest arias – his ‘Celeste Aida’ and her ‘O patria mia’.
Freed from the constraints of the proscenium arch and placing the Orchestra of Opera North among the singers, Arden finds strong contemporary resonances in the opera.
Director Annabel Arden comments:
“Opera North’s concert stagings are so compelling because they put the singers in the same space as the audience, and the orchestra becomes the landscape of the piece. Having them centre stage is truly thrilling, as so much of the drama is in their playing.
“Yet it’s not a concert. The singers are inhabiting their roles fully, there is physical staging, full costume, and certainly psychological and emotional depth.
“I’m interpreting Aida as happening in a contemporary world where war is everywhere. Aida’s emotional landscape is also a very interior one; she is very close to death and experiences exile and loss most intensely. We are surrounded by situations today which could be Aida’s. Jealousy, ambition, patriotism and family conflict are eternal human experiences, and the focus in our production will be on the characters’ relationships with each other.”
Commissioned to create a grand opera to inaugurate the new opera house in Cairo, Verdi responded by creating a historical fantasy of Egypt on a tragic theme. Yet for all its scenes of spectacle, such as the famous triumphal march, at the heart of Aida is a web of intimate personal relationships between people caught in the crossfire of international conflict.
It is the latest in a significant series of operas in concert presented by Opera North, building on the success of recent performances of Salome, Turandot, and the 2016 Ring cycle, winner of both the RPS Opera and Music Theatre Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Opera 2017.
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Box office: 0161 907 9000 or bridgewater-hall.co.uk
Tue 4 June 2019 Aida 7:30pm
Hull City Hall
Box office: 01482 300 306 or hulltheatres.co.uk
Fri 7 June Aida7.30pm
Birmingham Symphony Hall
Box office: 0121 780 3333 or thsh.co.uk
Tue 11 Jun 2019 Aida7.30pm