Giuseppe VERDI
Opera in 4 acts
Performed with 2 intervals
Libretto by Antonio GHISLANZONI
based on a scenario by Auguste MARIETTE

Running time with intervals: 3 hours 20 min.

Aleksandru SAMOILĂ
Stage Director – Carlo Antonio DE LUCIA (Italy)
Scenic Designer – Alessandra POLIMENO (Italy)
Choreographer - Yury VASYUCHENKO, Honoured Artist of Russia
Chorus Master - Leonid BUTENKO,  Honoured Art Worker of Ukraine

The first performance of this production took place on the 1st of June 2012 within the program of the First International Arts Festival in Odessa Opera 

About the opera

In 1868 Isma'il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt had an idea to turn Cairo in the world’s cultural capital. Opening of the Suez Canal and the Khedivial Opera House were to serve that idea. According to the desire of Khedive of Egypt, the first production was to be an opera with the national Egyptian plot.

The government of Egypt wanted to commission Giuseppe VERDI for creation of such an opera. However, the composer declined their offer. Even the fee of 150,000 franks (it is about 200,000 USD nowadays) that the Egyptians offered did not get him interested.

However, after the meeting with his only student, Emmanuelle MUTSIO, Verdi started thinking of the Egyptian offer. Mutsio managed to interest the composer with the plot of the old legend that a famous French Egyptologist Auguste MARIETTE found in an old Egyptian manuscript.

Some time later Camille DU LOCKLE, Verdi’s friend, sent the composer his plan for an opera in 4 acts based on that very legend. Impressed by the love story and the characters the composer at once started working at it. The opera got the name Aida. Auguste Mariette invented the name of the main heroine especially for the scenario of that musical piece. Antonio GHISLANZONI became the author for the rhymed Italian libretto.

Once Verdi said: “You need to be able to write fast, at a single breath, in order to write well. You can leave yourself some time to make corrections, rewrite, and alter the general line. Otherwise you risk spending too much time for one opera; you risk writing with breaks, creating music that lacks constituency, style and character”.

It took Verdi fewer than five months to write the opera but he had to wait for the whole year before its premiere in Cairo took place. It was impossible to transfer costumes, sets and scenic machinery to Egypt that had been produced in Paris after the design by Auguste Mariette because of the Franco-Prussian War. As a result The Khedivial Opera House opened with other operatic masterpiece by Verdi Rigoletto.

Aida finally opened in Cairo on 24 December 1871 and it met with great acclaim. However, the composer did not go to Cairo for the premiere. The production of Aida in La Scala to be held in just 40 days was more important for him. Verdi was heavily involved with the premiere at every stage, spent days meeting with the conductor Franco FACCIO and rehearsing with the singers who were to perform in Milan premiere, namely Teresa STOLZ, Maria WALDMANN, Paride PAVOLERI, Giuseppe FANCELLI, Ormando MAINI and Francesco PANDOLFINI.

It was cold and gloomy in Milan on 8 February but the house was full. Aida was received with great enthusiasm. The public burst into the thunder of applause when the performance was over. There were forty curtain calls for maestro Verdi as the public was “ecstatic with joy” as the chronicle writers recorded later. It was the beginning of a triumph. The opera was soon mounted at major opera houses throughout the world.

Due to the theatre entrepreneur Ivan TCHEREPENNIKOV Aida was one of the first productions on the stage of the Odessa City Theatre. As The New Russian Telegraph informed Aida by Verdi was on stage in December 1887 featuring Russian and Italian singers. At the edge of the 19th – 20th centuries the “Egyptian masterpiece” was on stage in many enterprises, namely in I. SETOV’s enterprise, Ivan GREKOV’s enterprise and a number of others.

Aida was also the opening production after the 1925 fire. The opera was in the theatre repertoire even during the World War II as well as after the city’s liberation.

Odessa Aida productions of different epochs featured lots of opera stars, namely Nadiya BULICHEVA, Titto RUFFO, Ivan ALCHEVSKY, Donato DONATOV, Raisa SERGIYENKO, Lyudmila SHIRINA and others.

The conductors were Joseph PRIBIK, Arnold MARGURYAN, Yaroslav VOSHCHAK, Boris GRUZIN and others.  

Act One

Time: Old Kingdom 
Location: Memphis and Thebes 
Premier performance: Cairo, 24 December 1871

Scene 1
A hall in the King's palace in Memphis. Ramfis, the high priest of Egypt, tells Radamès, the young warrior, that war with the Ethiopians are advancing and the chief commander is going to be chosen today. Radamès expresses the hope that gods will choose him as the Egyptian commander. In case of a victory he asks the king of his permission to marry Aida, the Ethiopian slave who belonged to the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris.

Amneris has been in love with Radamès for a long time and does not keep it in secret from Radamès but he does not return her feelings. When Aida appears the princess notices the way her beloved and her slave look at each other and suspects Aida to be her rival.

The King enters in his full glory, along with the High Priest, Ramfis, and the whole palace court. A messenger announces that the Ethiopians, led by King Amonasro, are marching towards Thebes. The King proclaims Radamès to be chosen to lead the army against the Ethiopians. Aida is in despai. Nobody knows that she is the captured daughter of the Ethiopian King Amonasro. If her father wins, Radamès,whom she loves deeply, will die. If gods give the victory to Radamès, her people will be defeated. 

Scene 2
Inside the Temple of Vulcan in Memphis. Radamès kneeels in front of the altar. He is given the ancient sword, thus his installation to the office of commander-in-chief takes place. All present in the temple pray mighty Ptah for the victory of Egypt. Radamès will lead the warriors at dawn.

Act Two

Scene 1
The chamber of Amneris in Thebes. The princess is getting ready for the long awaited meeting with glorious Radamès who led the Egiptians to the victory. The Pharaoh’s daughter calls Aida and tricks her into professing her love for the young commander by falsely telling her that Radamès has died in the battle. The slave cannot hide her despair. Amneris has her guess confirmed. The Ethiopian slave and captain of the guard love each other! Amneris fires with rage. The young girl has to either reject the commander-in-chief or die!

Scene 2
The grand gate of the city of Thebes. The Egyptian troops march into the city led by victorious Radamès. The Egyptian King greets the triumphant Radamès and decrees that on this day he may have anything he wishes.

The Ethiopian captives are rounded up. Aida can see her father Amonasro among them. Calling himself a commander-in chief for the Ethiopians Amonasro declares that the Ethiopian king (he himself) has been slain in battle. Aida, Amonasro and the captured Ethiopians hope for mercy and plead with the Egyptian King for it. However, Ramfis calls for their death. Radamès, on the contrary, wants the captives to be set free. The King sets the prisoners free but Aida and Amonasro remain as hostages. At the end of the celebration ceremony the King of Egypt declares Radamès, the liberator of Egypt, to be his successor and his daughter's betrothed husband. Now power, glory and wealth can belong to the young man but he wants nothing. He will not trade in Aida’s love.

Act Three

On the banks of the Nile, near the Temple of Isis. Hiding outside Aida waits to meet Radamès to say her last goodbye. The young girl does not want to live without him, the river will be her grave. In the meantime prayers are said to Isis so the godess would give blessing to the Amneris and Radamès' marriage.

Amonasro appears all of a sudden. He has learnt about love between his daughter and Radamès. He forces Aida to agree to find out the miitary secret from Radamès. Having heard a refusal he curses Aida. Torn between love to her motherland and Radamès, the young girl agrees to do what her father demands.

When Radamès apears, Amonasro hides behind a rock. Military duty makes the young man lead against the Ethiopians once more. Radamès hopes that after his second glorious victory The King will agree to break his engagement with Amneris so he could marry Aida. The young girl is confident that the Pharaoh’s daughter will not give up and they will both die. Fleeing to Ethiopia is the only way out. In order to make their escape easier, Radamès proposes that they use a safe route and he also reveals the location where his army has chosen to attack.

Upon hearing this, Amonasro in high spirits comes out of hiding and reveals his identity. He ha heard what he needs for the victory over the Egyptians. Radamès is horrified. He has become a traitor.

At the same time Amneris and Ramfis leave the temple and, seeing Radamès with their enemy, call the guards. Aida and her father disappear in the darkness while Radamès surrenders to the imperial guards. 

Acr Four

Scene 1
A hall in the Temple of Justice. Everything is ready for the trial over Radamès. Amneris asks Radamès to deny the accusations, promises her love and the crown of Egypt if he turns down Aida. Radamès firmly refuses, – Aida’s love cost him honour and motherland. The priests led by Ramfis condemn Radamès to death. The traitor will be buried alive. Amneris curses the priests while Radamès is taken away.

Scene 2
The vault in the Temple of Vulcan. Radamès is sealed up in a dark vault of the temple. He thinks of his beloved before death. All of a sudden he hears a sigh and then sees Aida. She learned about his terrible fate and has hidden herself in the vault in order to die with Radamès. At last united Aida and Radamès dream of heavenly happiness after death.

Above the vault in the temple of Vulcan, Amneris weeps and prays to the goddess Isis to give Radamès peace and quietus after death. 

The Cast

AIDA, an Ethiopian princess (soprano) - Honoured Artist of Ukraine Larysa ZUENKO, Ganna LITVINOVA, Natalya Pavlenko
PHARAOH, The King of Egypt (bass) - Honoured Artist of Ukraine Dmytro Pavlyuk, Sergiy Uzun, Dmytro SEBOV
AMNERIS, daughter of the King (mezzo-soprano) – Honoured Artist of Ukraine Tetyana SPAS’KA, Honoured Artist of Ukraine Olena Starodubtseva, Maryna Godulyan
RADAMÈS, Captain of the Guard (tenor) - Oleg Zlakoman, Eduard Martynyuk, Mykola Subbota, Olexandr Shulz
AMONASRO, King of Ethiopia (baritone) – Honoured Artist of Ukraine Victor MITYUSHKIN, Olexander STRYUK, Ivan FLYAK
RAMFIS, high Priest (bass) - People’s Artist of Ukraine Vasyl NAVROTSKY, Honoured Artist of Ukraine Dmytro PAVLYUK
A MESSENGER (tenor) – Pavlo Smyrnov

Chorus, orchestra, ballet, extras of the theatre

Conductors - Honoured Artist of Ukraine Igor Shavruk, Honoured Artist of Ukraine Igor Chernetski

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About Stage Director Carlo Antonio de Lucia

Operatic director, producer, operatic singer and coacher

Carlo Antonio de Lucia is an operatic director, producer, and operatic singer. Felice Ciavi, Ruggero Orofino, Selestina Casapietri, and Maria Ciapa coached him as a singer. Maestro de Lucia is a prizewinner for a number of international singing contests, the most significant of which are Voci Verdiane (Parma, Italy) and Ismael Voltolini Singing Contest (Mantua, Italy).

Carlo Antonio de Lucia performed operatic parts of Don Alvaro (La Forza del Destino), Alfredo (La Traviata), Manrico (Il Trovatore), Radames (Aida) in the operas by Giuseppe Verdi, as well as parts of Rudolfo (La Bohème), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Pinkerton (Madam Butterfly) in the operas by Giacomo Puccini.

As a production director Maestro de Lucia has brought up operas in Italy, South Korea, Belarus, and Russia, namely Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Carlos, Nabucco, Aida, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto by G. Verdi, Il Barbiere di Siviglia by G. Rossini, Don Pascuale, L'Elisir d'Amore by G. Donizetti, La Serva Padrona by G.Pergolesi, La Giaconda by A. Ponchielli, Carmen by G. Bizet, La Fanciulla del West, Tosca, La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Turandot by G. Puccini, etc.

Carlo Antonio de Lucia has been a producer for a number of operatic festivals, such as Lario Lirica in Como (Italy) from 1998 to 2006, Bitonto Opera Festival (2006), Stagione Lirica in Lecce (2011, 2012), as well as for the operatic season of 2005/2006 in Manzoni Theatre in Rome.

Maestro de Lucia has shared his experience in a number of universities. In 2010/2011 he led operatic workshop classes in Milan State University. At the moment he is an Associate Professor at operatic studios of the University of Seoul and University of Suwon (South Korea). Maestro is also an Associate Professor in direction at operatic studio of Milan State University.

Carlo Antonio de Lucia has been an operatic impresario since 1998. His impresario work was appraised b the Ministry of Theatre Productions of Italy in 2003.