Verdi's Aida directed by Stefano Poda at the Verona Arena: let's discover the "behind the scenes" of the most glamorous opera of the moment, among international artists, haute couture dresses, master craftsmanship and "secrets" advice on how to live it at its best.
The opera Aida was commissioned in 1869 to Giuseppe Verdi by Isma‛il Pasha Fifth ruler and first khedive of Egypt, apparently to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal, and is based on an original subject by the French archaeologist Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The Italian composer initially declined the proposal so much so that his refusal gave way to a real international diplomatic mission which in the end forced him to accept, with a millionaire cachet, on the condition of having total freedom, even of budget, on the staging and on the choice of the cast.
The story is that of a world at war, Aida is a universal interdisciplinary show that ends with a message of peace to be delivered to the future.
(Stefano Poda, director)
Aida premiered in Cairo on December 24, 1871, receiving great acclaim from the public, enraptured in following the story of the daughter of the Ethiopian king, enslaved and deported to Egypt, where she falls in love with the commander of the Egyptian troops, Radames.
One hundred and fifty years after the first performance, Stefano Poda, the director who overturned the dogmas of Verdi’s masterpiece on the occasion of the 100° Arena di Verona Opera Festival has signed, with the courage of true artists who are not afraid of difficulty or judgment, also the scenes, costumes, lights and choreography of the opera.
To do this, he put to good use his thirty-year study of techniques in the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, tailoring and literature, giving life to a show, full of symbolism, which could trigger a crescendo of emotions between music, movement and plastic forms.
Thus, in a media event of global proportions that brought Aida and the Arena di Verona to an absolute record of spectators, shares and social posts, the Egyptian temple gave way to a gigantic mechanical hand that symbolizes manpower, the columns with metal hands arranged in a semicircle (reminiscent of the amputated limbs of enemies found in ancient tombs) and the sphinxes to futuristic spaceships. To complete the scene, a mirrored floor that reflects the clothes and movements of the artists and the over 200 extras that enliven the set in a dizzying crescendo.
The costume doesn’t dress, it’s the character himself.
(Stefano Poda, set and costume designer)
On the stage of the premiere, the soprano Anna Netrebko (Aida) and the tenor Yusif Eyvazov (Radamès), Opera’s power couple also in life, together with the Orchestra and the Choir of the Fondazione Arena conducted by Marco Armiliato.
The costumes are wonderful, real works of haute couture, conceived to a design by Stefano Poda and made by highly skilled craftsmen. From the magnificent white suits with second-skin effect printed fabric jerseys with Egyptian designs, to the jackets and coats made with hundreds of mosaic mirrors, up to the wonderful dresses in precious red plissè with metal mesh bustiers and headgear, it is to be hoped that the Arena offers a capsule collection or a dream sample sale where you can buy them.
To realize, as a beauty voyeur for one evening, the magnificence of the dresses and sets, you can access the Arena well in advance and enjoy the pre-show excitement. Or, you can book as a corporate event the Backstage VIP Pass that granted access behind the scenes before a show, one of the special experiences organized on the occasion of the 100° Arena di Verona Opera Festival.
“Hidden” among the ancient vaulted corridors of the Arena, a city within a city will be revealed before you, made up of many small rooms occupied by artists’ dressing rooms, workshops of all kinds, from tailoring to shoemaking, and make-up rooms, inhabited by artisans, technicians and extras engaged in the last reharsals.
And then, the absolute magic, those moments before going on stage that you would like to stop in time to relive them again and again: the accesses to the stage are populated by dancers, the pharaoh’s soldiers queue up in the galleries like the troops of Star Wars, and Aida and Radames, modern gladiators, enter the Arena for the most fascinating show ever which, thanks to Stefano Poda’s polymath and romantic soul, consecrates Aida into eternity.
Next bookable dates of Aida 2 / 18 / 23 August and 3 / 8 September.
Maria Callas made her debut in Italy at the Arena on 2 August 1947 as the protagonist of La Gioconda and it is from here that her magnificent career will kick off. The 100th Arena di Verona Opera Festival commemorates the Divine with the exhibition “100 times Callas”, which can be visited until 30 August at the Gran Guardia.
Thanks to Heads Collective for the stage photos.