Hi friends, One of Giuseppe Verdi's most significant works and the grandest of grand operas, Aida, had its premiere at the Cairo Opera House on Christmas Eve 1871. Aida tells the story of a love triangle in ancient Egypt: Radames, a captain of the Egyptian guard, is secretly in love with Aida, daughter of the king of Ethiopia and a slave at the Egyptian court. Aida returns Radames love, but he is also loved by Amneris, the daughter of the king of Egypt.
In a misguided AIDA in Newark, the Tenor left the stage in Act !, after he begged Alfredo Silipigni to stop conducting the opera. It was a long haul---and a relief when he was entombed w/Aida in the Finale.
Playing Aida you understand what a great genius Verdi was. You can play it twice a week for years, and it’s still magic every night.
Thank you for this. What a treat. A decades-long favourite and I was just contemplating that octave (+/-) jump as I work on an arrangement of The Trees on the Mountain, another fave from Susannah
I came to opera late (in college when I started taking voice lessons) in the early 1980s. So I was learning about opera at the height of the careers of several great singers, and at the end of some others, Price one of them. I can still remember going home from school and telling family that I was commandeering the television/radio for the simulcast (remember those?) of her final performance of Aida at the Met (https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1985-01-05-ca-11655-story.html). What. An. Incredible. Evening. I still remember it 30+ years later (go to Google and start typing "leontyne price last" and "at the Met" is the second suggest search - it's still that frequently searched for) the thunderous final curtain (according to that LATimes articel 25 minutes in length).
In my mind she is our greatest Aida. I was also privileged to hear her in concert when I was in grad school at Florida State a few years later. The world has changed, and opera no less than other things, and I think "diva" is not a way we talk any longer about great singers (modern media, television, video, social media give us singers less remote than when their appearances were more rare and wonderous events). I mean diva in this sense: derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity. The word once carried a sense of ability and bearing and it went beyond singing on a stage. Leontyne Price carried herself with an understanding of her ability, her place in the history of opera as a singer and a woman of color.
The Glenn Winters comments are terrific by the way. Warms my Music Theory heart.