AIDA – Giuseppe Verdi; librettist, Antonio Chislanzoni

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Contributing Diva:

By Angela Rocco DeCarlo
Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Costa Mesa, CA
February 23, 25, 28 – 8 p.m.

Aida, the spectacular Giuseppe Verdi opera of 1871, alight with a dramatic love triangle, political and military intrigue, and the glorious aria “Celeste Aida” in Act 1, and the “Triumphal March” of Act II, comes to Orange County, California, February 23, 25 and 28. This is the opera everyone should experience at least once.
Verdi was the most successful and widely performed composer in opera history. No opera season in the world is complete without including at least two of his major pieces.
The Pacific Symphony, with Carl St. Clair conducting, at Renee and Henry Segerstom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa, CA, presents Verdi’s dynamic masterpiece in a full-orchestra of  88 musicians, “semi-staged” concert presentation, featuring stellar performers, including local diva, Milena Kitic, who was the ferocious gypsy beauty of Bizet’s Carmen, in thePacific Symphony production of a few years ago. She performs Amneris, the Egyptian princess in love with military hero, Radames.
Making her North American debut, South African mezzo, Kelebogile Besong, sings the role of Aida, captured Nubian princess, slave to Amneris. Unknown to others, Aida and Radames share a deep love which is threatened by their rival political and military loyalties. Verdi’s operas often illuminate these themes of power and struggle between nations and the effects on individuals.
Radames is played by Arnold Rawls and Amonasro by Mark Delavan. Julian Close is Ramfis,Philip Skinner is the King and Renee Tatum, High Priestess.
The opera was commissioned, at a fee of 50,000 francs, by Egyptian nobleman, Pasha Khedive, for the opening of the Cairo opera house in 1871. Folklore suggests it was intended for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, but that is discounted today.
Verdi is the lion of opera, with a career which spanned the years 1839-1893. His music dramas, filled with glorious music in arias and chorus, are relished everywhere. The New York Metropolitan Opera has presented Aida more than 1,000 times.
A preview talk by Alan Chapman takes place in the concert hall at 7 p.m. to provide an overview of the story and historical context. It is worth the extra effort to arrive early.
The opera’s story is both complex and simple. Two lovers – slave Aida and soldier Radames– vowing their adoration for each other, amid the impending battle which Radames hopes to lead for Egypt.  Then there are the complications arising from the jealous princess, Amneris, who wants Radames for herself.  War brings added heartache for Aida as her father is brought back as
a prize of battle by her beloved Radames – and you have a full and exciting evening of drama and gorgeous music. Not to be missed.
After a career creating 28 operas, the final, Falstaff, when he was nearly 80 years old, Verdi passed on in 1901, the same year as Britain’s Queen Victoria.
Thousands walked in his funeral cortege in Milan.The Italians accompanying Verdi’s final procession spontaneously broke out in song with the sorrowful chorus from his opera, Nabucco, “Va, pensiero.” Opera music, in a world without recordings, were the hit tunes of their lives.
How fortunate for all who have lived after Verdi…for he left a legacy of great drama and music…and it is loved, because art is always about us.
When the opera performers take their places on stage, after the performance, someone should be sure to have the audience honor Giuseppe Verdi for gifting the world with so much pleasure.

Aida – Giuseppe Verdi,composer; Antonio Chislanzoni, librettist
February 23, 25, 28 – 8 p.m.
Preview talk – 7 p.m.
Pacific Symphony – Renee and Henry Segerstom Concert Hall
615 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa
Box office – 714-755-5799
Groups – 714-876-2311
Online –
Tickets – $33- $162

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, is a former Chicago journalist, covering entertainment, travel and culture. For 15 years she served as opera docent for Pacific Opera, Santa, Ana, CA.

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, is a former Chicago journalist, covering entertainment, travel and culture. For 15 years she served as opera docent for Pacific Opera, Santa, Ana, CA.

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