Opera North is staging Aida at Leeds Town Hall, the latest in its series of groundbreaking concert stagings. The show is then heading off on an extensive tour across the Midlands, the North and Scotland – how amazing to see Opera North leading the way for this amazing art form all over the country!
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, which tells the story of Aida, the daughter of the Ethiopian king when she is 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, with her lover Radamès played by Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas. 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.
The famous Triumphal March is just one of the recognisable set pieces from Aida, with some of Verdi’s finest arias such as his Celeste Aida and O aptria mia also playing a large part in the show’s success.
Freed from the constraints of the proscenium arch and placing the Orchestra of Opera North among the singers, director Annabel Arden finds strong contemporary resonances in the opera.
She says: “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.”
Aida follows Opera North’s acclaimed concert stagings including the Ring cycle, winner of both the RPS Opera and Music Theatre Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Opera, and Billy Budd, the first full performance of Britten’s opera at his home venue of Snape Maltings.
Aida opens at Leeds Town Hall on 1st May before touring to various venues across the North! Visit operanorth.co.uk for further information.