Aida Opera on Coolangatta Beach
Aida Opera on Coolangatta Beach
The Main Characters are:
Aida: an Ethiopian princess enslaved in Egypt and handmaiden to Amneris
- Radames: Aida’s lover; A Captain – chosen to lead the Egyptians in battle
- Amneris: an Egyptian princess; daughter of the King of Egypt
- Amonasro: King of Ethiopia; Aida’s Father
First performed December 24, 1871 in Cairo, Egypt
Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni (in Italian)
Griffith Opera on the Beach AIDA
‘Aida’ was composed by Giuseppe Verdi for opening of a new opera house in Cairo, Egypt. Delays beyond Verdi’s control meant that Aida was not ready for the opening of the new house and Rigoletto was performed instead. But two years later, Aida premièred in Cairo in December 1871 and in Milan a few months later.
Verdi did not attend the Cairo première, but directed the Milan performance. It was a resounding success and the audience called him back to the stage thirty-two times with thunderous applause! He was gifted an ivory baton, and a star made of diamonds with the name of Aida spelled out in rubies.
Today, “Aida” is one of the most famous operas in the world and renowned as one of the world’s greatest outdoor operas. The famous New York Metropolitan Opera has performed Aida more than 1,100 times since 1886.
Aida is a four-act opera set in ancient Egypt – Memphis and Thebes during the reign of the Pharaohs. The audience is transported through the King’s Palace, the Temple of Vulcan, the chamber of Amneris and the Grand Gate of the city of Thebes. There are scenes on the banks of the Nile, near the Temple of Isis and the last act, again at the temple of Vulcan. Aida is a timeless story of love and betrayal set against the backdrop of war, through the powerful music of Verdi – a story full of drama and deep emotions.
Act 1 – Palace of Memphis
Aida is an Ethiopian princess who lies about her identify. She is held prisoner in Egypt, as a slave and handmaiden to Amneris, the daughter of the King of Egypt. An Egyptian Captain, Radames, is secretly in love with Aida, and she with him. When the King of Egypt appoints Radames to lead a war against Ethiopia, he finds his loyalties divided between his love and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. Aida is deeply conflicted about her love for her country and her love for Radames. Through victory in battle, Radames hopes to win the hand of the beautiful Aida.
Act 2 – Amneris’s Apartments
The Egyptian King’s daughter, Amneris is also in love with Radames. Amneris manages to trick Aida into revealing her love for Radiates. This makes Amneris furious. Radames wins the war, he returns to Egypt. The Egyptian King intends to reward Radames by bestowing Amneris to him, and for him to become the successor. Amneris is ecstatic, Aida feels deep sorrow and Radames is very confused.
Act 3 – Temple of Isis
Aida recognises her father, Amonasro, the Ethiopian King among the prisoners. He forces Aida to betray Radames by eliciting from him his military secrets. Aida proposes to Radames that they escape from Egypt and live together. Radames agrees and then he reveals a secret escape route to her. Amneris appears and arrests Radames as a betrayer. Radames tells Aida and Amonasro to escape through the secret route.
Act 4 – The Judgement
To leak military secrets results in the death penalty. Amneris offers to save Radames only if he promises to love and marry her. But, he refuses and is prepared to die. Radames is buried alive in deep grave. He is surprised at the sight of Aida there. She has snuck into the grave before he was imprisoned. Together they wait for death to come.
The Coolangatta night sky will be lit up by lights and fireworks. The huge cast and orchestra perform Verdi’s famous music in a new production featuring fireworks, fantastic singing and colourful costumes. Aida is often the subject of lavish outdoor performances.
Mind Boggling Facts and Figures about the Coolangatta Stage Set Up
- Two 7.6m Pharaohs tower over the stage; they are carved out of polystyrene. It took two props makers 240 hours to make the statues. They travelled to the Coolangatta event site in a 40ft-shipping container
- The staircase on stage is 17m long
- 10 principal artists, 10 dancers, 50 musicians and 55 Community Chorus singers are involved in the production
- 10 Surf Lifesavers look after the cast and crew
- It took 11 days to turn the beach into a pop-up performance venue
- 44 wigs adorn the heads of the cast; all handmade from human hair
- 2 adult NSW camels are part of the show
- The venue includes 130m of white picket fencing; 400m of temporary fencing and 1000sqm of ground protection
- 35 tonnes of ballast support the stage scaffold
- 1 km of festoon lighting illuminates the site
- Two generators support the electrical needs of the entire site
- 3800 audience members see the performance every night
- There are 1574 folding beach chairs dotted across the sand
- 150 shots of fireworks of different sizes and colours explode into the night sky during the fireworks display