Remembering Joe Green: Giuseppe Verdi Turns 200
By: Brad Kronen
Selection III: "THE TRIUMPHAL MARCH FROM VERDI'S AIDA"
For our next Verdi treasure, we need to get back to basics, as in learning 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.
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 Master declined, saying he didn’t write “occassional pieces”.
Although Aida is one of the ABC’s of opera, its ever skyrocketing production costs displayed to many opera houses 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!
In the mid to late 20th century the "A" began to stand for “Absolutely Impossible to Produce”. Unless you’re the greatest dramatic stage in the world, such as the clip I’ve chosen from NYC’s Metropolitan Opera, which for Aida’s “Triumphal March” of the victorious Egyptian army over the Ethiopians has the descending Pyramid parts with a cast of 100’s.
The Met saved the elephants for the Big Apple Circus which performs next door at Lincoln Center during this time of year.