Opera in four acts
Music - Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto - Antonio Ghislanzoni
Stage director - Alexei Stepaniuk
Set designer - Piotr Schildknekht
Set revival director and costume designer Viacheslav Okunev
Aida is one of the finest creations of Guseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi. Written
in 1870, bringing together the vast experience that the great composer had by
thenaccumulated with the Italianís natural dramatic talent, this truly Shakespearean
canvasis a monumental Egyptian fresco.
In November 1869, during celebrations to mark the competition of the Suez Canal, a new
opera house was opened in Cairo. The Khedive of Egypt decided to invite Verdi to write
anopera for the occasion. The composer initially declined, but later gave in to
thepersistent demands of the French librettist Camille du Locle and accepted the offer.
Theopera was based on a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni after a scenario by the destinguished
Egyptologic Auguste Mariette and a French prose version by Camille du Locle.
The premiere took place in Cairo on 24 December 1871, coinciding with the opening of
theSueze Canal. The opera was a stunning success and six weeks later it was received just
asenthusiastically in Milan. Since then, Aida has remained one of Verdiís most
popular operas. It was first heard in Russia in St. Petersburg in 1875, when it was
performed by an Italian company, with Teresa Shtolts giving a memorable performance as Aida.
The first performance of Aida by Russian company was at the Mariinsky Theatre in
1877, in scenery designed by Andreas Roller. The orchestra was conducted by Eduard
Napravnik, the leading Russian conductor of the nineteenth century.
These have been five different versions of Aida at the Mariinsky since 1877. The
most memorable were the productions of 1922 and 1948, performed in sets by
P.Schildknecht.Schildknechtís designs largely explain the long history of Aida
inKirov-Mariinsky repertoire. The current version (conductor Valery Gergiev, stage
directorAlexei Stepaniuk, revival and costume designer Viacheslav Okunev) sees the theatre return
to Schildknechtís original design, which form the main aesthetics of the show.
The imagery of the Mariinsky production is provided by the majestic ďfrozenĒ
backgrounds designed after Egyptian frescoes. The decorative nature of the sets is
repeated in the plastics of the cast, which includes such Mariinsky Opera stars as
OlgaBorodina, Galina Gorchakova, Larisa Diadíkova, Nikolai Putilin and Vladimir Galuzin.
Such a magnificent union of scenic and vocal images makes for a striking and
stylishproduction of Verdiís original classic.