Aida al Teatro Nazionale di Belgrado


Opera in four acts (7 scenes) | Libretto Antonio Ghislanzoni
First performance: in Cairo on 24 December 1871, on occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal
Conductor Peter Leonard, g.a. / Đorđe Pavlović
Director Ognian Dimitrov Draganoff, g.a.
Set Designers Dejan Miladinović & Miraš Vuksanović
Costume Designer Milanka Berberović
Costume Designer Associate Katarina Grčić Nikolić
Choreographer Konstantin Kostjukov
Selection Of Video Materials Dejan Miladinović
Video Production Petar Antonović

Premiere Cast:
The King Of Egypt Stefan Pavlović / Mihailo Šljivić
Amneris, His Daughter Jelena Vlahović / Nataša Jović Trivić / Dragana Del Monako / Jadranka Jovanović
Aida, Slave  Jasmina Trumbetaš Petrović / Ana Rupčić  / Sanja Kerkez
Radames, Egyptian Warrior Janko Sinadinović / Hon Li / Dušan Plazinić
Ramfis, Egyptian High Priest Ivan Tomašev / Nenad Jakovljević / Slavko Sekulić
Amonasro, The King Of Ethiopia, Aida’s Father Miodrag D. Jovanović / Aleksandar Stamatović
Messenger Nenad Čiča / Danilo Stošić
Priestess Ivanka Raković Krstonošić / Biljana Soldo / Tatjana Mitić / Marija Mitić Vasić

Priests, priestesses, solders, Ethiopian slaves, Egyptian people
With Orchestra, Choir, Ballet Company and extras of The National Theatre in Belgrade

Ballet Soloists Milica Jević, Nada Stamatović, Smiljana Stokić / Ivana Savić, Olivera Gavrilov, Tijana Šebez (III Scene)
Milica Jević, Miloš Marjan / Ivana Savić, Lloyd Petchey (IV Scene)
With Participation Of Students Of “Lujo Davičo” Ballet School In The Third Scene
AssIstant Choreographer Milica Bezmarević
Students Trained By Lidija Pavlović
The action takes place in Memphis and Thebes, in the time of the Pharaohs
Chorus Master Đorđe Stanković
Concert Masters Edit Makedonska / Vesna Jansens
Stage Music Đorđe Stanković
Music Associates Srđan Jaraković, Ivan Jovanović, Nevena Živković, Nada Matijević, Tatjana Ščerbak Pređa
Stage Managers Branislava Pljaskić, Ana Milićević
Prompters Silvija Pec, Biljana Manojlović
Producers Maša Milanović Minić, Snježana Vujasinović Đorđević
Libretto subtitles translation Dejan Mitrović
Deputy Stage Director Ivana Dragutinović Maričić
Assistant Director Branislava Pljaskić
Make-Up Dragoljub Jeremić
Lighting operator Srđan Mićević
Stage Crew Chief Zoran Mirić   
Sound operator Tihomir Savić

Synthesis of the AIDA

Three years after he had written Don Carlos, on July 16, 1870, in a letter to his friend, Verdi wrote: “As I have already told you I am busy. Well, guess with what? I am composing an opera for Cairo! I shall not go there to stage it: I am afraid of being mummified down there”. However, he was not mummified, he was  – glorified. Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, commissioned Verdi to write an opera for the new Оpera House at Cairo, to be performed for the first time on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal. Archeologist Edouard Mariette Bey, famous for his excavations at Memphis and Thebes wrote the rough draft of the story. Camille du Locle, a former director of the Opera Comique, Verdi’s collaborator on the libretto for Don Carlos, dramatized this text. Finally, Antonio Ghislanzoni, poet, journalist and novelist made of it an opera libretto, with certain interventions made by composer himself. Verdi visited Cairo and Egypt in order to experience an ambient and to get inspiration on the spot. After only four months, within an unbelievable short period of time, in the middle of November 1870, the score of Aida was ready. Scenery and costumes were made in Paris, special “Aida-fanfares” were designed for grand triumphal scene, main roles were assigned, and Aida was performed for the first time on December 24, 1871 at the new Opera House at Cairo, with a great success. That triumph was repeated at La Scala, on February 8, 1872 (thirty-two recalls!). Shortly afterwards, Aida was premiered and brilliantly received at the main Italian and European stages (at the Berlin Royal Opera on April 20, 1874, two days later at the Paris Grand Opera, and by the end of April at the Vienna State Opera). Verdi requested Ghislanzoni to write a text that would clearly show and describe the situation, and that could inspire him to express musically, with persuasive strength,  basic human emotions and passions such as: happiness, sadness, love, hate, curse, revenge and death. Beyond doubt, Ghislanzoni’s libretto enabled him to create a firm music dramaturgy, which deepest purpose was to express the depth of the human soul in the music and through the music. Set pattern of  the French grand opera, applied to Aida, consistent and effective, but in a way empty and shallow, Verdi enriches with deep human drama based on the conflicts between human passions and tragic dualism between love and patriotism. Realist by his artistic method, Verdi illustrates, within the romantic plot, things, events and characters concisely and persuasively, giving their genuine nature. In that way Verdi’s opera becomes “character opera”. Regardless of the fact that in Verdi’s scores orchestra is not anymore only simplified accompaniment of the melodic line but it shapes the characters, emphasizes the dramatic moments, gives the impression of the landscape and atmosphere of the scene, yet, in the spirit of true Italian tradition, the main expressive factor remains the sung melodic line, which carries the dramatic power,  and influences and enriches the other elements of musical and dramatic expression. The most touching drama realized through the unforgettable sound, musical-scenic piece that expresses a synthesis of the Italian operatic romance, Verdi’s Aida was and still is one of the most attractive pieces of the large opera repertoire. Celeste Aida! 

B. Dragutinović