Royal Opera, Covent Garden, 2010; Valencia Opera, 2011 and 2016; Oslo Opera, 2012

Credits | Reviews  ⇓


Music by Giuseppe Verdi, 1871

Directed by David McVicar

Choreography by Fin Walker

Martial Arts Direction by David Greeves

Stage Design by Jean-Marc Puissant

Costume Design by Moritz Junge

Lighting by Jennifer Tipton




Production Manager: Susan Usher

Head Painter: Emma Troubridge

Props Master: Antony Barnett

Images © E. Berg courtesy of Oslo Opera

“(…) a necessary antidote to the whole tedious tradition of sub-De Mille spectacle in this piece.”

The Independent


David McVicar’s brief was to set the production in an imagined, unrecognisable ancient culture glorifying religion, violence and the horror of war.


The Independent by Edward Seckerson

David McVicar’s darkly primitivist Aida was a necessary antidote to the whole tedious tradition of sub-De Mille spectacle in this piece. The dramatic backdrop has been quickly established and in Jean-Marc Puissant’s abstract designs of darkly lowering Rothko-like panels, wonderfully, smokily lit by Jennifer Tipton, a mood of deeply mysterious paganism descends. The cleverest thing about his staging is that it honours the operatic grandiosity of Verdi’s camply picturesque Egypt but feeds big-time on the pagan rituals and inter-ethnic barbarity. The celebrated “Triumphal Scene” is played out under a canopy of mutilated corpses hanging like so many butchered carcasses in an abattoir. And just as the warriors here are pointedly non time or place specific so too are the beaten metallic surfaces of Jean-Marc Puissant’s abstract “installation-like” sets established at the start with a wonderfully mysterious image of a god-like warrior maintaining a lone vigil before a revolving wall in which encrusted steel lances are neon lit like the rays of the rising sun.


The Stage by George Hall

Aida demands visual grandeur and up to the interval, Jean-Marc Puissant’s sets and McVicar’s management of sizable stage forces fit the bill entirely. The period is left open – this is an alien culture in thrall to religion and violent ritual, but it’s not the traditional ancient Egypt of the libretto. But it certainly packs a theatrical punch and covers the emotional and intellectual terrain of the piece with easy assurance.


The Evening Standard by Barry Millington

Aida without the pyramids and elephants? Is that not an oxymoron? But it’s precisely what David McVicar was aiming for in his new production for Covent Garden. “You can source any ancient culture you want” he told his design team, “as long as it’s not Egypt.” In any case, the shocking sacrificial imagery of the “triumphal” second act — roasted carcasses suspended like meat overhead — combined with the oppressive stage picture (Jean-Marc Puissant’s brooding sets powerfully lit by Jennifer Tipton) is appropriately gut-wrenching.