The vulnerable protagonists of Aida face an agonising moral dilemma: to what should they be loyal?
To their homelands? To their families? Or to their love
The story of Aida is a product of war: not only in its writing, but on the stage as well.
The sounds of war resonate throughout the tale of the captive Ethiopian princess and king,
and the Egyptian commander brought down by and for love. Although Egypt wins a pyrrhic
victory, this triumph desired by so many brings ruin to all who wished for it.
This is a story about war, a topic as old as man and which will continue as long as our species. War chooses life or death for millions, divides families and lovers, and permeates warring countries and their people of every order and rank, from pharaoh to slave.
But there is one thing that can never be vanquished: the purity of the soul.
In 1869, the viceroy of Egypt contacted Verdi in the hopes of acquiring a musical work for the opening of the Suez Canal. The composer did not take on the assignment. The viceroy later contacted him again: wouldnt he like to write an opera for the opening of the Cairo Opera House? The Italian maestro agreed, and commenced work on Aida.
The opera takes place in the age of the pharaohs, when Egypt was in the process of conquering Ethiopia. The story of the Ethiopian princess cast into slavery is an example of the human dilemma, of political and personal conflicts. The war produces extreme and dramatic situations that simply cannot be solved. What is a person to do when forced to turn traitor for the sake of ones love? How is it possible to obey ones father, so that he too does not betray the lover? In the sumptuous halls of the monumental palace, one can feel just as lonely as when standing completely alone in the middle of the desert.
It wasnt the exoticism of the world of the pharaohs that excited Verdi. He dedicated Aida to the celebration of universal harmony and peace among nations, with all the pomp and ceremony that such a celebratory event deserved. The work was not ready for the opening, and was only premiered in 1871. Two years later, Egypt again declared war on Ethiopia.
János Mohácsi is one of the key figures of Hungarian theatre. This production marks his debut as an opera director.