Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Ambition Fulfilled

Donald Macleod on the 1870 outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, when Paris was under siege and with it the scenery and costumes of Verdi's grandest of all grand operas: Aida.

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In July of 1870, Verdi's latest operatic tale of conflict between two nations at war, of love, conquest, military pomp, jealousy and revenge, was overtaken by real-life events with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. Verdi had had his bruising professional experiences with the French but this crisis in her history brought out the Francophile in him: "...the impertinence, the presumption of the French was and is, despite all their misfortunes, insupportable," he wrote to a friend. "Nevertheless, in the last resort, France gave freedom and civilisation to the modern world . And if she falls, don't let us delude ourselves, all our liberties and civilisation will fall with her." By November, Paris was under siege and with it the scenery and costumes of Verdi's grandest of all grand operas: Aida.

Aida, Act 2 (Gloria all'Egitto & Triumphal March)
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

String Quartet
Vogler Quartet

Aida, Act 3 (Pur ti riveggo ...La mia rival!)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Rome Opera House
Jon Vickers, Tenor (Radames)
Leontyne Price, Soprano (Aida)
Sir Georg Solti, Conductor

Aida, Act 4, Sc 2 (La fatal pietra ... O terra, addio)
Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Trumpeters of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Montserrat Caballe, Soprano (Aida)
Placido Domingo, Tenor (Radames)
Fiorenza Cossotto, Mezzo-soprano (Amonasro)
Riccardo Muti (Conductor).

1 hour

Music Played

  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Aida - Gloria all’Egitto & Triumphal March

    Orchestra: Orchestra of La Scala, Milan. Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Choir: Chorus of La Scala, Milan.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON : 413-448-2.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON.
    • 6.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Quartet in E minor for strings

    Ensemble: Vogler String Quartet.
    • RCA : rd-60855.
    • RCA.
    • 1.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Aida - Pur ti riveggo …La mia rival!

    Performer: Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Conductor: Georg Solti. Singer: Jon Vickers. Singer: Leontyne Price. Singer: Giorgio Toss. Singer: Rita Gorr. Singer: Robert Merrill. Singer: Plinio Clabassi.
    • Decca: 417 416-2.
    • Decca.
    • 4.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Aida - La fatal pietra … O terra, addio

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra. Performer: Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Singer: Plácido Domingo. Singer: Fiorenza Cossotto. Singer: Montserrat Caballé.
    • EMI : CDC-74723-2.
    • EMI.
    • 21.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.