Aida in a concert performance at the Mupa, Budapest

On 26th October, I’m conducting the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hungarian National Choir (prepared by Csaba Somos) in this single performance of Aida. Alongside the excellent orchestra and choir, thanks to whom I’ve consolidated and renewed my musical and personal ties with the Hungarian musical institutions, I’ll have an excellent international cast. We’re aiming for a memorable inauguration this season with an opera, resuming one of the traditions of the glorious HNPO.

There’s always been a passionate, albeit infrequent, relationship between me and this masterpiece by Verdi (I recall interesting productions in Seattle, Macerata and Florence).  Without a doubt, with Aida Verdi made his mark in opera production, before going on to compose Otello and Falstaff, his “extreme” masterpieces from all perspectives. So, Aida effectively sets a seal on the golden age of nineteenth century Italian opera. What I like about Aida is, first of all, the challenge of drawing attention to the opera’s most evanescent shades, which colour it from the beginning of the prelude until the final pianissimo. In between, you can find everything, above all the opera’s flavour which is so beloved of audiences, who associate it with the triumphal march and the monumental scenes on stage. That’s why I like to explore the exotic theme, each time enchanted by the “faraway” flavour that Verdi, in his genius, didn’t get from Egyptian or oriental music, but from his own infallible ear, capable of using the flute’s lower register or the timbres of harp and oboe, or even ecclesiastical psalmody, to create the sound of “otherness”, to great effect. Aida is a political work, firstly for its air of freedom, but above all for the dramatic and musical plot centred on Ramfis who, along with the priestly caste, holds greater power even than the King, an oppressive absolute power that dominates matters from the first opening of the curtain until Amneris makes his final appearance from the temple.

Pure Verdi, pure genius.