Verdi: Triumphal March from Aida

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Act II Finale (Triumphal March) from Aida

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Composed in 1870.
Premiered on December 24, 1871 in Cairo, Egypt.

VERDIAida, Verdi’s grandest spectacle and one of the most popular operas ever written, was intended to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal and the Cairo Grand Opera House in 1869. The premiere was delayed for almost two years, however, not only because of Verdi’s stringent demands on himself, his librettist and the producers, but also because the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 made it impossible to ship the sumptuous costumes and sets to Cairo from Paris, where they were constructed.

The plot was based on a story by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette Bey, who sent his idea to Camille du Locle, manager of the Paris Opéra Comique, to determine if it could be turned into a stage work. Du Locle devised a scenario from Bey’s plot and sent it to Verdi, with whom he had a close personal and professional relationship. Verdi demurred at first, but he was eventually convinced to undertake the project and worked with his usual speed and vigor until the opera was completed.

Terrified of sea voyages, he refused to attend the brilliant premiere in Cairo on Christmas Eve 1871, but supervised Aida’s first Italian performances at Milan’s La Scala six weeks later.

Act II closes with a spectacular scene that includes the grand Triumphal March (Gloria all’Egitto — “Glory to Egypt”), whose noble strains and majestic gait so inspired the Egyptian authorities that it was adopted as the national hymn of that country soon after the premiere.

The Minot Symphony Orchestra performed this piece on its Family Concert on January 26, 2013.