Aïda is one of Verdi's greatest gifts to grand opera. It magnificently combines high drama, stage spectacle, and a musical score that is one of the glories of operatic writing. A great success from its first performance over a century ago, it continues to dominate the repertory of opera houses around the world, among them the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which has staged Aïda more than any other opera in its long history.
In 1869, Verdi, at the peak of his career, initially declined offers from Egypt to create an opera for the new Cairo opera house, built to mark the opening of the Suez Canal. Then, in 1870, opera officials sent Verdi a short synopsis of a tragic love story that unfolds amid the pomp and pageantry of ancient Egypt. Verdi pronounced it "well-made" and "splendid from a scenic point of view." And when a handsome commission arrived from the Khedive as well, he set to work with his librettists on what would become his most famous opera. After many revisions, Aïda premiered in Cairo on Christmas Eve in 1871 and was an instantaneous success. Subsequent performances in Milan, Parma, Naples, and Paris confirmed its enormous popular appeal, which has never flagged.
Verdi endowed Aïda with arias, vocal ensembles, and orchestral scoring of thrilling power. Some of its passages, among them the celebrated third-act "Nile scene," are ranked by critics as among the finest in opera. This authoritative full-score edition will afford music lovers the opportunity to study intimately this grand opera that so richly displays Verdi's genius at its most inspired.
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