Sun, 28. Jan 2024, 17:00
Giuseppe Verdi [1813 – 1901]
In Benedikt von Peter’s production of Verdi’s pharaonic opera, exotic Egypt is only visible as a dreamworld depicted on postcards. In this version of the work, which occupies the entire auditorium, the focus is on Radames’s dichotomy between the sobering reality of his everyday activities and his desire to find the woman of his dreams … Conductor: Carlo Montanaro; production: Benedikt von Peter; With Yulia Matochkina, Sondra Radvanovsky, Jorge Puerta a. o.
About the work “Amore, sommissione, dolcezza” – the traits that Giuseppe Verdi gave his eponymous heroine, Aida, who embodies pure love, tenderness and submissiveness. And these characteristics put her firmly in the tradition of 19th-century female protagonists who were not so much fully rounded personalities as sex objects and a focus for male fantasies, women whose inevitable fate was to die of a broken heart. And Aida is no different.
But in a departure from Verdi’s earlier operas AIDA offers a different model to that of the doomed love affair, and it comes in the form of Amneris, whom Verdi describes as “molto vivacità” in his list of protagonists. Amneris seethes with life energy, aggressively defending her love. She is a woman who could hold down a relationship.
Radames, on the other hand, the man caught between Aida and Amneris, cannot commit to the real world. He builds Aida up in his mind, transfixed by the aloof, “exotic” woman. In love with his image of an angelic figure, Radames dreams of struggling heroically against misery and repression. Radames stages his heroic acts in the full glare of publicity, while wincing at his own failure to reconcile utopic love with a political utopia - because the object of his desire is doomed anyway and the rescue of POWs and the downtrodden is not only futile but also linked to the use of violence.
So, we have an unrealistic hero, plagued by his own angst, as the linchpin of an opera that is arguably Giuseppe Verdi’s most pessimistic, ending as it does with Radames abdicating from life and withdrawing into a granite mausoleum. Aida’s death also represents the end of the utopia.
About the productionWith this in mind, director Benedikt von Peter sees Verdi’s grand opéra as a “requiem to utopia”, a work that never escapes the gaze of the public, and the action of his AIDA extends to all corners of the auditorium. As in other productions of his, von Peter opens up the opera house’s musical architecture, spreading it the length and breadth of the auditorium. It’s a musical structure that ranges from full-throated choruses of a nation at war to the fragile theme of the work: the loneliness of Radames, Amneris and Aida. The three protagonists act and react on the proscenium flanked by two corpuses: the orchestra on the main stage and the opera chorus placed amongst the audience. The public, then, sitting in the midst of the music, are getting a close-up experience of Verdi’s score.
Opera lirica in four actsLibretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni based on a draft by Auguste Mariette, developed by Camille Du Locle in collaboration with Giuseppe VerdiWorld premiere 24th December 1871 in CairoPremiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 22nd November 2015
recommended from 15 years on