Verdi’s epic love story set amid the clash of ancient empires
Performed in Italian with projected English translations.
Opera preview hosted by Maestro Salesky begins 45 minutes prior to each performance
Aida, the grandest of all operas, was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal and has been thrilling audiences since its 1871 Cairo premiere. In the shadow of the Pharaohs’ pyramids, a bitter war dooms a star-crossed romance between the enslaved Ethiopian princess Aida and a powerful Egyptian warrior. Will Aida be manipulated by her father into choosing country over love? Absent from the Knoxville Opera stage for 18 years, Verdi’s epic returns with 200 performers and its magnificent Triumphal Scene as a spectacular showcase for a stunning international cast.
Meet the Director
Dean Anthony (Stage Director)
After enjoying a 25-plus year international career in over 100 tenor roles, DEAN ANTHONY has traveled the country as a dynamic stage director. Mr. Anthony has brought his energetic, gritty, and physical style of directing to productions of Aida, Albert Herring, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Bohème, Carmen, Dead Man Walking, L’Elisir d’amore, Falling Angel, Falstaff, The Fantastiks, Glory Denied, Hansel and Gretel, H.M.S. Pinafore, Madama Butterfly, The Magic Flute, Man of La Mancha, The Merry Widow, A Misdummer Nights Dream, Le Nozze di Figaro, I Pagliacci, The Pirates of Penzance, The Rakes Progress, Rigoletto, Sacco and Vanzetti, Semiramide, Speed Dating Tonight, Street Scene, Suor Angelica, Sweeney Todd, The Threepenny Opera, Tosca, La Tragédie de Carmen, La Traviata, and Trouble in Tahiti. Audiences have enjoyed his performances with Amarillo Opera, Augusta Opera, Florentine Opera, Ft. Worth Opera Festival, Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, Nashville Opera, Opera Delaware, Opera Naples, Opera on the James, Opera Tampa, Pacific Symphony, Pensacola Opera, Shreveport Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, Syracuse Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Winter Opera of St. Louis.
After serving as Resident Stage Director and Director of Production at Shreveport Opera 2009-2012, for the past five summers the Omaha native has served as Director of Opera for the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.
Mr. Anthony’s has presented his well-known Movement and Acting for Singers master classes at Astonia Music Festival, Boston Conservatory of Music, Central Methodist University, Festival Lyrique de Belle Ile en Mer, Florentine Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, SIU Edwardsville, St. Petersburg Opera, Texas State University, Tulsa Opera, University of Delaware, University of Kansas, University of Memphis, University of Miami, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of West Florida, University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Virginia Opera, Washington University, and Winter Opera of St. Louis.
Meet the Cast
Michelle Johnson (Aida)
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Foreign Orchestra: Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias (Spain)
U.S. Opera Companies: Sarasota Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Kentucky Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Annapolis Opera, PortOpera, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera in the Heights, Teatro Grattacielo (NYC)
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: Boston Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony, Juneau Symphony, Princeton Symphony Orchestra; Glimmerglass Music Festival, Lyric Fest (Philadelphia)
Elena Bocharova (Amneris)
Birthplace: Magadan, Russia
Foreign Opera Companies: Opera de Oviedo (Spain), Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow), Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, Opéra Bastille (Paris), Teatro Comunale di Firenze, Semperoper Dresden, Opéra de Paris, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Edmonton Opera
Foreign Orchestras and Festivals: Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Warsaw Philharmonic, Oper Koln Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway); Mumbai Festival (India), Macau International Music Festival (China), Savonlinna Festival (Finland)
U.S. Opera Companies: San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Omaha, Dayton Opera
U.S. Orchestras: Minnesota Orchestra, Madison Opera Orchestra, Richard Tucker Opera Galas
Dongwon Shin (Radamès)
Birthplace: Seoul, Korea
Foreign Opera Companies: Semperoper Dresden, Opera de Montreal, Royal Opera (London), Vienna Staatsoper, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Opera Australia, Opera New Zealand, Teatro Politeama Greco di Lecce (Italy)
Foreign Festival: Savonlinna Festival (Finland)
U.S. Opera Companies: San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Ft. Worth Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Carolina, Arizona Opera, Dayton Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Delaware
U.S. Orchestras: Philadelphia Orchestra, Delaware Symphony
Scott Bearden (Amonasro)
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan
Foreign Opera Company: International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv)
U.S. Opera Companies: Knoxville Opera (Pagliacci, Otello, La Fanciulla del West, Hansel and Gretel, Tosca, Maria Stuarda), San Francisco Opera, Opera Boston, Opera New Jersey, Opera Memphis, Toledo Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Opera San Jose, Opera Grand Rapids, Eugene Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera, West Bay Opera, Mercury Opera, Rockland Opera (NY), California Festival Opera
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: Knoxville Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Midland Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Tanglewood Music Festival, Caramoor Music Festival, Sanibel Music Festival, Mendocino Music Festival
Kevin Thompson (Ramfis)
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Foreign Opera Companies: Hannover Oper, Theater Kiel, Teatro Nacional Sucre (Ecuador), Wexford Opera (Ireland) , Opera Hong Kong
Foreign Orchestra and Festival: Verona Teatro Filarmonico; Munich Biennale Modern Music Festival
U.S. Opera Companies: Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Knoxville Opera (La Traviata, Otello, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Norma), Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Carolina, Tampa Opera, Shreveport Opera, West Bay Opera, Festival opera, Odyssey Opera
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: St. Louis Symphony, American Symphony, National Philharmonic, Tallahassee Symphony, Sacramento Choral Society Orchestra, Idaho State Civic Symphony; Aspen Music Festival, Music in the Mountains Summerfest
John Dominick (King)
Birthplace: Pineville, Louisiana
U.S. Opera Companies: Sarasota Opera, New York City Opera, Delaware Valley Opera, NY Lyric Opera, Princeton Festival Arts, Opera Brooklyn, Encompass Opera, Natchez Opera Festival
U.S. Orchestras: Opera Orchestra of NY, St. Cecilia Orchestra, Pueblo Symphony Orchestra
Act 1; Sc. 1: A hall in the King’s palace, Memphis, Egypt. The ancient times of the Pharaohs.
The high priest Ramfis tells the young warrior Radamès that war with the Ethiopians seems inevitable. Radamès hopes that he will be chosen as the Egyptian commander and dreams both of gaining victory in battle, and of the Ethiopian slave Aida, with whom he is engaged in a secret love affair. Aida, unbeknownst to the Egyptians, is the daughter of the Ethiopian king Amonasro who has invaded Egypt to deliver her from servitude. Amneris, the daughter of the Egyptian King, enters. She too loves Radamès, but fears that his heart belongs to another. When Aida appears, Amneris suspects that she could be her rival. The King, accompanied by his ministers, enters and is informed that the Ethiopians are marching towards Thebes. He declares war and proclaims Radamès to lead the army. Left alone, Aida expresses her conflicting emotions between her love for her father and country, and Radamès.
Act 1; Sc. 2: Inside the Temple of Vulcan.
Radamès is ceremonially installed to the office of commander-in-chief.
Act 2; Sc. 1: Princess Amneris’s chambers.
Dances and music celebrate Radamès’s victory in battle. After all leave, Amneris falsely tells Aida that Radamès has died in battle, ticking her into professing her love for him. When Amneris reveals that Radamès lives, Aida is jubilant, and the enraged princess makes plans to take revenge on her rival.
Act 2; Sc. 2: The grand gate of the city of Thebes.
Radamès returns victorious. The Ethiopian captives are rounded up, and Amonasro appears among them. Aida rushes to her father who tells her not to betray their political identities. Amonasro declares that the Ethiopian king (he himself) has been slain in battle. The captured Ethiopians plead with the Egyptian King for mercy, but the Egyptian people call for their deaths. Radamès pleads with the King to spare the lives of the prisoners and to set them free. The King declares Radamès to be his successor and to be his daughter’s betrothed. Aida and Amonasro remain as hostages to ensure that the Ethiopians do not avenge their defeat.
Act 3: On the banks of the Nile, outside the Temple of Isis.
The temple priests are heard praying on the eve of Amneris’s wedding to Radamès. Outside, Aida waits to meet with Radamès as they had planned. Amonasro appears and makes Aida agree to find out the location of the Egyptian army from Radamès. When he arrives, Amonasro hides and Aida tricks Radamès into revealing the location that he plans to have the Egyptian army attack the Ethiopians. Upon hearing this, Amonasro emerges and reveals his identity. Radamès is humiliated. Amneris and Ramfis exit the Temple and, seeing Radamès with their enemy, summon the guards. Amonasro and Aida try to convince Radamès to escape with them, but he refuses and surrenders.
Act 4; Sc. 1: A hall in the Temple of Justice.
Amneris desires to save Radamès despite his actions. However, when she asks him to deny the accusations of betrayal, he refuses. Certain that his punishment will be death, Amneris implores him to defend himself to no avail. He is relieved to learn that Aida has escaped Egypt safely. Radamès is led to his trial with Ramfis and the priests but is silent in his own defense. The priests condemn him to death despite Amneris’s pleas for mercy. She curses them as Radamès is sentenced to be buried alive.
Act 4; Sc. 2: The burial vault in the Temple of Vulcan.
Radamès believes he is sealed up alone in the vault and hopes that Aida is safe. To his shock and dismay, Aida emerges from the darkness. They accept their terrible fate and bid farewell to Earth and its sorrows. In the Temple above, Amneris prays for peace for Radamès and the priests pray to Ptah, their God of Creation, as Aida dies in Radamès’s arms.