Aida 2020




FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 (7:30 PM) & SUNDAY OCTOBER 4 (2:00 PM), 2020 at the Valentine Theatre


The first opera ever produced in Toledo in 1959, Aida launched both the Toledo Opera Guild and what would become today’s Toledo Opera. 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, conducted by Maestro Dean Williamson and staged by director Jeffrey Buchman.

Starring Metropolitan Opera Soprano Jennifer Rowley as Aida and Carl Tanner as Radamès


Performed in Italian with English supertitles.



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.

Jennifer Rowley, Aida

Soprano Jennifer Rowley is acclaimed worldwide for her unforgettable voice and remarkable stage presence, singing a richly varied repertoire that includes many of opera’s greatest heroines. In the 2019/20 season, Ms. Rowley added two Verdi roles to her growing list of repertoire, and she made two highly anticipated house debuts: first at the National Theatre Prague as Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, and then at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in the title role of Verdi’s Aida. She returned to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise two of her signature Puccini roles: the title role of Tosca, and Musetta (La bohème). She also sang Tosca for Opera San Antonio, making her house debut, and ended that season making her greatly anticipated house and role debut at Opera Australia as Elizabeth I from Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. This season, she makes debuts at The Dallas Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, and Opéra de Marseille. On the concert stage, Jennifer returned to Fort Worth Opera for a concert with pianist Joe Illick, joined by New York City Opera baritone Raymond Diaz. She also sang a recital with Opera Naples, part of their “Opera Stars Concert” series and returned to the Salisbury Symphony as the featured artists in their “Opera Fireworks” Gala Concert. An avid mentor to young artists, Ms. Rowley will lead masterclasses at SUNY Potsdam, and she returns to her alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University for her second residency, where she will she teach BW students in masterclasses and lessons, and will also present a solo recital. Ms. Rowley has appeared with Toledo Opera on two Opera Galas, the title role in Vanessa, and as Musetta (La bohème).

 Carl Tanner, Radamès

American tenor Carl Tanner has established his international career performing regularly in the world’s most prestigious opera houses such as The Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Washington National Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Real, Madrid, New National Theatre of Tokyo and the Liceu de Barcelona amongst others. In December 2018, Mr. Tanner performed the title role of Otello on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera to great acclaim. The occasion also marked Gustavo Dudamel’s house debut. Immediately prior to this, he performed the role at the Bolshoi Opera and Savonlinna. Upcoming performances include return to Grange Park Festival for Maid of Pskov, the San Diego Opera and Opera Carolina for Aida, a debut with the Gerencia Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro Prado del Rey (RTVE) in Madrid, Canio (Pagliacci) with Opera North Carolina, Turandot with The Pacific Symphony, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera. Other recent engagements include Verdi’s Aida at the Metropolitan Opera, Tosca at Deutsche Oper, La fanciulla del West at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie de Liège, Madama Butterfly at the Opéra National de Paris, Il Trovatore at the Semperoper in Dresden and at the Staatsoper in Hamburg, Aida at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Turandot in Hamburg, Carmen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the baton of Zubin Mehta, at the Teatro alla Scala, and at the Teatro San Carlo, La Gioconda in Berlin and the Teatro Real de Madrid and Tosca in his Covent Garden debut.


Deborah Nansteel, Amneris

Deborah Nansteel made her début with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa (Lucia di Lammermoor), her début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude (Roméo et Juliette), her Carnegie Hall début in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic début alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. Ms. Nansteel performed the role of Mother/Ensemble in the world première of Blind Injustice with Cincinnati Opera and the role of Brigitta in Bard Music Festival’s Die tote stadt in concert.  Last season, she made a series of returns to the Washington National Opera as Emilia (Otello) and Second Lady (The Magic Flute), and to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Suzuki (Madama Butterfly).  She will also make her long awaited role début as Amneris (Aida) with Opera Tampa and Opera Grand Rapids and will create the role of Miriam in the World Premiere of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings with Opera Theater St. Louis. Since her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has returned for Nabucco, Il Trovatore, and as Siegrune (Die Walküre).  She originated the role of Lucinda in the world première of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s thrilling novel Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera. At the Washington National Opera, Ms. Nansteel sang Flora (La Traviata), Dame Marthe (Faust), which she also performed at Dayton Opera, and as the Marquise of Birkenfield (La fille du regiment) with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which is featured in the documentary film RBG.  



Corey Crider, Amonasro

Baritone Corey Crider is an alumnus of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center and recently returned to the company as Malatesta (Don Pasquale). Additional recent highlights include Marcello (La bohème) with the Munich Philharmonic and Arizona Opera, Sharpless (Madame Butterfly) with Dayton Opera, and Escamillo (Carmen) with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. The 2018-2019 season saw him as Dancaïro (Carmen) with The Dallas Opera, the Captain (Florencia en el Amazonas) with Pensacola Opera, Germont (La Traviata) with Opera on the James, and Lancelot (Camelot) with Charlottesville Opera. Past seasons included returns to Opera Roanoke as Tonio (Pagliacci), The Dallas Opera as Prince Affron (The Golden Cockerel), Escamillo (Carmen) with Madison Opera, Germont (La Traviata) with Opera at DuPage, a return to Opera Roanoke as Marcello (La bohème), and an appearance with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for Belshazzar’s Feast, Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff (Opera on the James) and the title role in Rigoletto (Mississippi Opera). Additionally, he sang Scarpia (Tosca) with Intermountain Opera and Finger Lakes Opera, returned to Opera Roanoke to perform his acclaimed Emile DeBeque (South Pacific), and joined the Opera Company of Middlebury as Michele/Marco (Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi).


Zaikuan Song, Ramfis

Zaikuan Song, an operatic bass from China, received his bachelor and master degrees in vocal performance from the China Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China, and a Performance Diploma at Michigan State University College of Music in 2016. He is completing a D.M.A in vocal performance at Michigan State University College of Music. Mr. Song made his first New York debut as Zuniga (Carmen) with Martina Arroyo´s Prelude to Performance. He successfully performed the roles of Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Dulcamara (L'elisir d'amore), Mr. Emerson (A Room with a View), Changwu Ye in the Chinese Opera The Savage Land, and Ariodate (Xerxse) with MSU Opera Theater. He won first place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, in the advanced college category of Michigan Chapter Auditions, in March 2018. Mr. Song has appeared with Toledo Opera as Sarastro (The Magic Flute) and Banco (Macbeth).


Michael Colman, The King of Egypt

Michael Colman, recently hailed by Opera News for “fielding a fine, dark bass-baritone,” has performed with many premier regional opera companies throughout the country. Mr. Colman made his professional debut singing the Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) as an Apprentice Artist with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and went on to perform roles including Basilio (Il barbiere di Seviglia) with Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera, Schaunard (La bohème) with Indianapolis Opera, Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance) with Dayton Opera, Ceprano (Rigoletto) with Toledo Opera, Dottore Grenvil (La Traviata) with Opera on the James, Leporello (Don Giovanni) with Janiec Opera Company, and Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) with the University of Kansas. An avid concert singer, he has performed as the Bass Soloist (Messiah) with the Dayton Philharmonic, the Bass Soloist (Mozart Requiem) with The Virginia Consort, and recently sang in recital with Warren Jones at the Manchester Music Festival. Upcoming engagements include Father (Thumbprint) and Angelotti (Tosca) with Chautauqua Opera, King of Egypt (Aida) with Toledo Opera, and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) with Opera Grand Rapids. Mr. Colman is past Resident Artist of Toledo Opera and currently a student at Indiana University studying with Professor Peter Volpe.


Dean Williamson, Conductor

Dean Williamson is widely known throughout the United States for his perceptive and commanding conducting. His ambitious and versatile career in standard and contemporary repertoire earns the conductor worldwide acclaim.  Past seasons have included: Madama Butterfly with Nashville Opera and Inland Northwest Opera, Turn of the Screw, La Traviata, Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, Tosca, Maria de Buenos Aires, Susannah, Hydrogen JukeboxCosì fan tutte, Die Fledermaus, and Rigoletto with Nashville Opera, Madama Butterfly and La Cenerentola with Atlanta Opera, Le nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera, The Rake’s Progress for Northwestern University, and Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox at Washington University. Additional recent engagements include Madama Butterfly with Opera Idaho, Don Pasquale for Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and Faure’s Penelope for Philharmonia Northwest. For his New York City and Lincoln Center début, Williamson lead New York City Opera orchestra in a production of Florencia en el Amazonas to which the critics at The New York Times raved “Dean Williamson drew colorful, shimmering playing from the City Opera orchestra.”  He was also honored with a nomination for the 2015 Emmy Awards for the televised broadcast of the production of Le comte Ory that he conducted for Des Moines Metro Opera. Further highlights include returns to Seattle Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Colorado, Arizona Opera, Skagit Opera; Opera Idaho, Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and the New England Conservatory.


Jeffrey Buchman, Director

Opera News calls director Jeffrey Buchman “a formidable talent” and South Florida Classical Review wrote, “Buchman is one of the finest and most versatile directors working in opera today.” Some recent productions include:  La bohème, Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto and Die Zauberflöte for Florida Grand Opera, Carmen for Atlanta Opera; Tosca for Opera Tampa, Le nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly for Opera Naples, Il barbiere di Siviglia for Baltimore Opera, La traviata, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte for the Academy of Vocal Arts and CarmenLa bohème and La traviata for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  Mr. Buchman is in as much demand for new opera as he is for fresh, compelling productions of the operatic classics.  In contemporary opera, he has recently created productions of As One (Laura Kaminsky) for Hawaii Opera Theatre and Opera Colorado, 27 (Ricky Ian Gordon) for Michigan Opera Theatre, No Exit (Andy Vores) for Florida Grand Opera, Ainadamar for the University of Miami Frost School of Music, and the world-premieres of TeslaIntelligent Systems, and Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman, all by Carson Kievman. Winner of the prestigious Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition and the National Society of Arts and Letters vocal competition, Mr. Buchman is on the faculty at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and the Brancaleoni International Music Festival (Italy). Mr. Buchman has directed Carmen and La bohème for Toledo Opera.


Matthew Steffens, Choreographer

Matthew Steffens is an international director and choreographer, Broadway performer, teacher, and film actor. Prior to calling the big apple home, as the son of a Navy SEAL, Matthew moved around most of his childhood.  A graduate of the University of Virginia he majored in government with a minor in theater.  For seven years, Matthew worked in the advertising industry on multiple Telly and Addy award winning campaigns for several Fortune 500 companies, ballot initiatives, and political candidates ranging from president to mayor in over 35 states. In 2004, Matthew left advertising to pursue performing full-time. He has toured the country with the Broadway musicals: Contact, Beauty and the Beast, and West Side Story (under the direction of Jerome Robbins’ assistant, Alan Johnson). After years of touring, Matthew took his talents to Broadway and appeared in the Broadway musicals; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown with Patti Lupone, and Promises, Promises opposite Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Matthew has also danced, fought, and flown his way through 13 operas at the Metropolitan Opera. He has been seen in such operas as The Tempest, Damnation of Faust, and Le Contes de Hoffman on movies screens around the world in the Met’s theater simulcast program. More recently, he served as the Associate Choreographer and Resident Director on the Off-Broadway immersive hit Queen of the Night, leading them to the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.  

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