Franco Zeffirelli had been absent from Italy’s La Scala for 20 years, and returned in to direct Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, performed Dec. 6, 2006, in a production extraordinarily lavish with an enormous budget.
Dec. 7 is the name day of St. Ambrose, patron saint of Milan. The opening night of the city’s opera season, Dec. 6, is called La Prima. On this occasion Italians honor their culture, and the world is reminded that great operatic compositions and unsurpassed performances originated at La Scala in Milan. When better to celebrate the return of a famous director to Milan?
And so it was. Violeta Urmana sang the title role and Roberto Alagna was the lead tenor. Riccardo Chailly conducted. When the performance ended, Zeffirelli was showered with roses and received thunderous applause.
Aida is the daughter of the Ethopian king and Amneris is the daughter of the Egyptian king. The countries are at war and Radames becomes a leader in the Egyptian army. Beloved by both women, he has chosen Aida. But she has been captured and, incognito, is a slave in the Egyptian court, a fact Amneris is all too willing to exploit.
Creston opera lovers will have the opportunity to view the DVD of this same performance at the Creston Valley Public Library at 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the Jan. 30 viewing is free.
—BY JULIE EWASHEN