Aida happens on my second trip to Italy when I go BACK to see the Sistine Chapel. Missing Michelangelo’s Herculean masterpiece had gnawed at me something terrible. On this second trip I find myself in Verona where operas are staged outdoors in an old Roman Colosseum. Fresh off my experience with Rob in New York, and before food or hotel, I head to the colosseum to buy an opera ticket and a red libretto to get a gist of the plot.
It feels timey wimey to sit in the 2,000 year old amphitheater. Evening sets and people begin lighting the small candles that we were given with little cards to catch the wax. A well dressed Italian senior with his sweater tied around the front of his shoulders stands up proudly and begins to sing fragments of an aria still unknown to me. He sounds incredible, like he should be on stage and not in the audience. Like dominos other audience members stand and show off their talent. It’s convivial and people are drinking and eating.
It’s something. To think that if the Sistine Chapel had been open I might not have returned to Italy for this memorable night. I guess disappointments, like getting lost in Venice, can sometimes be passages to moments even more special than the ones you set out for. The opera begins. Like Ra above, I look down on the Egyptian drama unfold on the stage where the performers powerful voices reach beyond the tied sweaters, cheeses and wines, and ancient stones to join the chorus’ that came before still threading the stars above Verona, Italy.
Not too bad for my second opera.
So what’s Aida all about? Aida is a grand opera where the personal drama of the characters overlaps with an overarching political drama in Egypt. It begins with the Egyptian general Radames who is tasked with leading the army against Ethiopia. It is a classic tale of boy loves girl, girl happens to be Amonasro, the enslaved daughter of his enemy, the king of Ethiopia. Unfortunately for Amonasro, her master, princess Amneris also loves Radames, and she is the jealous type. Her jealousy sets in motion the wheels of destiny for Egypt and its people.
Notes on the production
Aida……………….. Micaela Carosi
Radames…………. Piero Giuliacci
Arena di Verona