Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part IV
The ABC’s of opera became not so basic when casts of 100’s and live elephants were added to an opera house’s ever rising production costs to put on Verdi’s “Aida”.
The Triumphal March from Verdi’s Aida
For our next musical extravaganza honoring Giuseppe Verdi, we need to get back to basics. We need to learn our ABC’s.
The ABC’s of opera may use the alphabet as a mnemonic device but they are ANYTHING but basic. B is for Boheme, as in Puccini’s La Boheme. C is for Carmen, as in Bizet’s Carmen.
And A is for Verdi’s operatic masterpiece set in ancient Egypt amidst the Great Pyramids of Giza, Aida.
Although Aida is one of the ABC’s of opera, its ever skyrocketing production costs made it more than evident to many an opera house throughout the world that quite the budget would be needed if they wanted to have descending pyramids, a cast of 100’s on stage, and of course LIVE ELEPHANTS!
Many mistakenly believe Verdi was commissioned to write Aida, (pronounced Eye-ee-da), in honor of the opening of Egypt’s Suez Canal. The composer was approached to write an “ode” for the historic event, but the Maestro declined, saying he didn’t write “occasional pieces”.
Occasional piece or not, in the late 20th century the “A” began to stand for “Absolutely Impossible to Produce”. Unless, of course, you’re the greatest dramatic stage in the world such as the clip I’ve chosen from NYC’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met does the pageantry of Aida in the grandest of ways with its “Triumphal March” having descending Pyramids with a cast of 100’s.
America’s greatest opera company saved the elephants for the Big Apple Circus which performs next door from the Met at NYC’s Lincoln Center during this time of year.
Advisory note – Should you play this video of opera at its most grand, your monitor screen did not hiccup, the Met’s Triumphal March opens with an entire Pyramid set descending as the Pharaoh’s Great Hall rises complete with 100’s of said cast members already on it!
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