Giuseppe Verdi

October 4th & 6th, 2013 at the Valentine Theatre

With its challenging roles, large orchestral and choral forces, massive scenery, and lush costumes, successfully producing Verdi’s masterwork Aida is a major achievement for any opera house. Significantly, it was the first opera ever produced in Toledo in 1959, and launched both the Toledo Opera Guild and what would become today’s Toledo Opera. Our 2013 production will be created in partnership with Opera Carolina and feature a cast of internationally acclaimed guest artists, a substantially expanded Toledo Opera Chorus, strikingly beautiful costumes, sets originally created in 2009 for the Edmonton Opera company, and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Set in ancient Egypt, Aida is a classic story of forbidden love. Radames, the Egyptian Captain of the Guard, falls in love with the beautiful Aida, an enslaved Ethiopian Princess, and is sentenced to death after he is accused of conspiring with her. Buried alive in a tomb, he discovers Aida has hidden herself inside in order to share his fate in the opera’s heartbreakingly-beautiful final scene.

Join Toledo Opera and Maestro James Meena and Stage Director Brian Deedrick at the Registry Bistro on Tuesday, September 24 at 5:30PM as they discuss the topic: The Ultimate Challenge: Producing Aida.

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by Giuseppe Verdi

Act I

Egypt, during the reign of the pharaohs.

At the royal palace in Memphis, the high priest Ramfis tells the warrior Radamès that Ethiopia is preparing another attack against Egypt. Radamès hopes to command his army. He is in love with Aida, the Ethiopian slave of Princess Amneris, the king’s daughter, and he believes that victory in the war would enable him to free her and marry her. But Amneris loves Radamès, and when the three meet, she jealously senses his feelings for Aida. A messenger tells the King of Egypt and the assembled priests and soldiers that the Ethiopians are advancing. The king names Radamès to lead the army, and all join in a patriotic anthem. Left alone, Aida is torn between her love for Radamès and loyalty to her native country, where her father, Amonasro, is king. She prays to the gods for mercy.

In the temple of Vulcan, the priests consecrate Radamès to the service of the god. Ramfis orders him to protect the homeland.

Act II

Ethiopia has been defeated, and Amneris waits for the triumphant return of Radamès. When Aida approaches, the princess sends away her other attendants so that she can learn her slave’s private feelings. She first pretends that Radamès has fallen in battle, then says he is still alive. Aida’s reactions leave no doubt that she loves Radamès. Amneris, certain she will be victorious over her rival, leaves for the triumphal procession.

At the city gates the king and Amneris observe the celebrations and crown Radamès with a victor’s wreath. Captured Ethiopians are led in. Among them is Amonasro, Aida’s father, who signals his daughter not to reveal his identity as king. Radamès is impressed by Amonasro’s eloquent plea for mercy and asks for the death sentence on the prisoners to be overruled and for them to be freed. The king grants his request but keeps Amonasro in custody. The king declares that as a victor’s reward, Radamès will have Amneris’s hand in marriage.


On the eve of Amneris’s wedding, Ramfis and Amneris enter a temple on the banks of the Nile to pray. Aida, who is waiting for Radamès, is lost in thoughts of her homeland. Amonasro suddenly appears. Invoking Aida’s sense of duty, he makes her agree to find out from Radamès which route the Egyptian army will take to invade Ethiopia. Amonasro hides as Radamès arrives and assures Aida of his love. They dream about their future life together, and Radamès agrees to run away with her. Aida asks him about his army’s route, and just as he reveals the secret, Amonasro emerges from his hiding place. When he realizes that Amonasro is the Ethiopian king, Radamès is horrified by what he has done. While Aida and Amonasro try to calm him, Ramfis and Amneris step out of the temple. Father and daughter are able to escape, but Radamès surrenders to the priests.

Act IV

Radamès awaits trial as a traitor, believing Aida to be dead. Even after he learns that she has survived, he rejects an offer by Amneris to save him if he renounces Aida. When he is brought before the priests, he refuses to answer their accusations and is condemned to be buried alive. Amneris begs for mercy, but the judges will not change their verdict. She curses the priests.

Aida has hidden in the vault to share Radamès’s fate. They express their love for the last time while Amneris, in the temple above, prays for Radamès’s soul.

Synopsis courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera. All rights reserved.

Othalie Graham, soprano (Aida)

Canadian-American Soprano Othalie Graham has won critical acclaim throughout North America. Of a recent performance as Tosca, the San Francisco Chronicle praised her “high-powered blend of musical assurance and theatrical temperament. Graham displayed a potent and secure soprano that soared effortlessly through the role.” 

Ms. Graham’s notable roles include Senta in Der Fliegender Holländer, Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in Die Walküre, and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. Other prominent roles include the title role in Elektra, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Leonora in Fidelio, Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Ariane in Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Serena in Porgy and Bess, and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana

Antonello Palombi, tenor (Radames)

Italian tenor Antonello Palombi performs around the world to tremendous acclaim. In his American debut as Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West with Seattle Opera, the Seattle Times proclaimed, “The most pleasant surprise was the discovery of a very fine new tenor in Antonello Palombi, whose singing in rehearsals had set the rumor mills abuzz. It’s all true: Here is a tenor with that exciting, emotion-stirring, head-turning Italianate sound, and he ignited the show whenever he was on-stage.”

Maintaining an active performance schedule in the United States and Europe, he made his debut at Milan’s La Scala in 2006 as Radames. He has repeated the role with Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Baltimore Opera.

Mark Rucker, baritone (Amonasro)

From the time of his debut as Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera alongside Luciano Pavarotti, American baritone Mark Rucker has been in demand in opera houses and on concert stages throughout the world.

Mr. Rucker made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida and has performed the role at Staatsoper Unter der Linden in Berlin with Fabio Luisi, with the Concertgebouw Orkest under the baton of Riccardo Chailly, as well as for the New York City Opera, Vancouver Opera, and in Mexico City.

Irina Mishura, soprano (Amneris)

Russian-born Irina Mishura has established herself as one of the most important dramatic mezzo-sopranos singing today. A recent performance of Bizet’s Carmen led one critic to write, “Irina Mishura’s Carmen absolutely floored the audience. Hers is a big sultry voice, evenly produced throughout its range... Her Carmen is truly voluptuous, with restrained, smoldering intensity.”

Irina Mishura is well-known to audiences throughout the United States and Europe. She made an auspicious debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2000 when she appeared as Dalila in Samson et Dalila opposite Plácido Domingo and has returned to the Metropolitan Opera every season. She has performed as Amneris at Los Angeles Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Cincinnati Opera, and Michigan Opera Theatre.

James Meena, Music Director

James Meena, Toledo Opera’s Principal Artistic Advisor and Opera Carolina’s General Director & Principal Conductor, consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium. The breadth of his repertoire spans the standard works of Mozart, Puccini and Verdi to contemporary works including Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree and Victor Davies’ Transit of Venus.

Conducting career highlights of recent seasons include new productions for Opera Carolina, performances with the Korean Broadcasting System Symphony in a nationally televised concert; performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, R.O.C., concerts with the Cairo Symphony (Egypt) in the new Cairo Opera House, and repeated engagements with Edmonton Opera. He has appeared as guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Italy, Taipei, Korea, Canada and Mexico.

Brian Deedrick, Stage Director

Brian Deedrick was the Artistic Director of the Edmonton Opera for the past nine years, directing many productions at the company. His directing career also takes him back and forth across Canada and the United States, with stops as far afield as central Italy and Tel Aviv. He is also a frequent educator and adjudicator, and has taught at the University of Regina, the University of Alberta, the Banff Centre, and Opera NUOVA. He last directed Don Giovanni for Toledo Opera during the 2012-2013 season.


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