Aida comes to Gateshead

Published: 13 March 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan


Opera North is bringing a concert version of Verdi’s Aida to The Sage, Gateshead in May.

Created by the team behind the 2017 staging of Turandot—Olivier Award-winning opera and theatre director Annabel Arden, designer Joanna Parker and leading conductor Sir Richard Armstrong—Aida comes to Gateshead on Saturday 18 May at 7:30.

These Opera North concert staging are definitely not a concert, says Arden, adding, “the singers are inhabiting their roles fully, there is physical staging, full costume and certainly psychological and emotional depth.”

Talking of the performance audiences can expect to see, she says, “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.”

Although Verdi's opera is best known for the grandiosity and imperialism of set pieces like the famous Triumphal March, at its heart is a web of intimate personal relationships between people caught in the crossfire of international conflict, ending with a prayer for peace. Its leading characters are as conflicted as the war-torn world they inhabit and for the doomed lovers, Radamès and Aida, Verdi reserved some of his finest arias—his Celeste Aida and her O patria mia.

Egypt is at war with Ethiopia. Aida (Alexandra Zabala), daughter of the Ethiopian king, has been captured by the Egyptians. Secretly, she loves an Egyptian general, Radamès (Rafael Rojas), 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.