At the end of July, I visited Russia for one week on an educational trip with eleven other students, studying the history of Russia. The trip was led by Dong Hoon Song who had been a reporter but now works as a travel writer and history teacher. After staying in Moscow for a few days, we traveled to St. Petersburg, where we saw a presentation of Verdi’s opera Aida at the Mariinsky Theater.
|<A photo of the interior of the Mariinsky Theater before Aida started taken by Jin Chey>|
For more than two centuries the Mariinsky Theater has served as a historic theatre of opera and ballet in Saint Petersburg, presenting the world with a plethora of great artists and plays. In 1802-1803 Thomas de Thomon, a brilliant architect, undertook the capital reconstruction, altering the external appearance of the theater. After multiple reconstructions, it opened in 1860 and became the preeminent music theater of late 19th century Russia. Since the Mariinsky Theater secured fame, myriads of Russia’s masterpiece musicals, operas, and ballets have been performed there.
|<The exterior of the Mariinsky Theater>http://www.visit-petersburg.ru/media/uploads/tourobject/194413/194413_cover.jpeg.1050x700_q95_crop_upscale.jpg|
On July 26th, I watched Aida, an Italian opera, in the Mariinsky Theater. The opera was the most outstanding performance that I have ever watched. Each element of the opera were produced by masters of the age, music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, and the grand orchestra led by the conductor Christian Knapp. Giuseppe Verdi, producing several successful operas, was an Italian opera composer who was known for his skill in creating melody and use of theatrically effective music. Antonio Ghislanzoni was an Italian journalist, poet, and novelist who wrote librettos for Verdi, among other composers. He is best known for Aida and the revised version of La forza del destino.
|<Akmed Agadi as Radames, Sergei Alexashkin as Ramfis> https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/repertoire/opera/aida|
Aida is an opera divided into four acts that runs for four hours and five minutes. Composed during 1870 and 1871, it was first performed on the 24th of December in 1871 at the Opera House, Cairo, and debuted in the Mariinsky Theater on the 1st of April in 1877. The opera begins in ancient Egypt, in the capital city, Memphis. An Ethiopian princess, Aida, is held prisoner in Egypt, and she lies to conceal her identity. Then, she becomes a slave of Amneris, the Egyptian King’s daughter. However, an Egyptian General, Radames, and Aida are secretly in love. When the Egyptian King assigns Radames to command the forces against Ethiopia, Aida is deeply conflicted between her love for her country--including its king, her father--and her love for Radames.
Act two reveals that Amneris also loves Radames. After Radames wins the war and returns to Egypt, the Egyptian King rewards Radames by bestowing Amneris on him and acclaiming Radames his successor. The plot continues as Aida recognizes her father, Amonasro, among the prisoners. Aida proposes to Radames that they should escape from Egypt. Although Radames agrees and reveals a secret escape route, Amneris finds out and arrests him as a betrayer. Still in love with Aida, Radames helps Aida and Amonasro escape. At the climax, Radames receives the death penalty. Yet, Amneris offers an ultimatum to Radames: she will save him if he promises to marry her. Loyal to Aida, Radames refuses and is later buried alive. The opera ends with the astonishment of Radames who finds Aida inside the grave, waiting together for their death.
|<Edem Umerov as Amonasro, Anna Markarova as Aida>https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/repertoire/opera/aida|
In this performance, the theater was filled with the booming of drums, the blare of trumpets, and the emotional singing of the actors. The performers displayed old-fashioned gestures, such as raising their arms to their foreheads to show suffering. They wore ostentatious costumes and profuse gold and extravagant jewelry to exhibit their power and authority. Overall, although it was my first time watching an opera, I had a magnificent experience being a part of a marvelous performance in one of the most historically significant and prominent theaters.
Jin Chey 최진
Indian Mountain School
Jin Chey 최진 firstname.lastname@example.org
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