Aida – An Opera

Music by Giuseppe VerdiAida by Verdi

Libretto by Antonio Ghidlanzoni

Conductor Renato Palumbo

Director Matthew Lata

Choreographer Kenneth Von Heidecke

At the Lyric Opera Chicago

Dazzling spectacle with exotic dance inhabits Verdi’s  masterpiece

I have only seen Aida once many years ago and I must say that the production now playing at the Lyric Opera of Chicago not only sings great and sounds terrific but it contains fabulous dancing (choreographed by Kenneth Von Heidecke).  Verdi was commissioned by the Egyptian King to write an opera that premiered at the Cairo opera house in 1871.  Contrary to popular belief, the opera was not written to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.


Aida is an amazing spectacle containing a long victorious scene complete with lavish colorful costumes, exotic dances and a haunting march. But as much as Aida is spectacle it also is an intimate four characters  opera focusing on Aida (Sondra Radvanovsky) – an Ethiopian slave and her father Amonasro (Gordon Hawkins) – the King of Ethopia and a prisoner of war; Amneris (Jill Grove) – the daughter of the Egyptian King and Radames (Marcello Giordan) – an Egyptian warrior.  Verdi uses melodious duets to tell the story of forbidden love, heartache and betrayal. The result is a evening of grandeur, eye-popping visuals and grand performances.


Besides Verdi brilliant score,  the voices sing with passionate emotions. Tenor Marcello Giordani commands the stage and soars to the heavens while Sondra Radvanovsky – a Chicago native- raises to the demanding role of Aida. She triumphs in her first time as Aida at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The audience cheered her performance!  Jill Grove’s mezzo effectively demonstrated Amneris’ heartache and Gordon Hwkins strong baritone rules his scenes.


Add the sensually vivid  dance and the splendid chorus work and the Lyric Opera’s Aida becomes an overwhelming thrilling evening of opera. I’ll have to move up Aida on to my list of all-time favorites. See this stunning production and you’ll agree.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: January 25, 2012

For more info checkout the Aida page on

2 thoughts on “Aida – An Opera

  • As an opera virgin, I was told that this was a good opera to, quote “cut my teeth on”, as such you may take the following with a grain of salt.

    Confession: I’m a part-time musical enthusiast. I enjoyed “In The Heights” “Wicked” and the music from “RENT”. While I did enjoy “Marry Poppins”, I’m definitely part of the younger generation of pop-rock musicals, rather than the high-art of shows like Aida (the opera, see above).

    With all of this said, I enjoyed Aida, the translation above the stage made for an interesting split-screen effect for me, as you suddenly have two places to check and make sure you’re on top of what’s going on. However, if you were lacking the translation you wouldn’t have any issues knowing what was going on, as the music and acting in this show are superb. I was informed ahead of time that “opera is spectacle” and Aida certainly lived up to that sentiment. More than once I was blown away by the depth of detail and scale of the sets on stage. From sliding panels concealing the royal trumpeters to a full temple back drop including full 20′ pillars to the easily 10′ throne of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

    I went to Aida mainly because I hadn’t ever experienced opera before. Since I had never been before, I went in with the expectation that I would hear a lot of screechy singing and not much else. However, I was determined to experience opera and see why people liked it. (because they must if it had survived as an art form for as long as it has). I found that the show as a whole grabbed me a good deal more than I expected. The grand march was an excercise in pride and power. The second act was intense suspense and the ending especially tugged at my heart strings. While I’ve since determined that opera is a good deal more than screechy singing, I think I’ll delve into it slowly in future, as like a very dry Chardonnay, is an acquired taste.

    While you may be a either a virgin like myself, or a long time opera supporter, I would recommend Aida to you, for the spectacle, for the experience, or just for the evening.

  • I’m glad you enjoyed the opera. I try to introduce as many young folks as possible to the grandeur of opera.

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