It is well known that Aida was commissioned from Giuseppe Verdi by the Khedive of Egypt to mark the opening of the Suez Canal. For ten years the composer had written nothing for Italian theatres. His new operas were awaited with baited breath everywhere from London to St Petersburg and he received more for them than in his native Italy. And so it happened that one of the maestro’s greatest masterpieces was premiered in Cairo, far from any of the world’s operatic capitals. Although it had been stated that if Verdi didn’t write an opera they would turn to Wagner or to Gounod (what an amazing choice theatres had in 1870!), in Egypt they waited patiently until having turned them down twice the maestro eventually agreed to read the scenario – and he found it was a magnificent one. Then they waited some more until the immense score was ready and still more until they could get the costumes and sets from France that had been delayed at the workshops in Paris because of the Franco-Prussian War. The Cairo premiere took place on 24 December 1871. The composer did not travel to Egypt, preferring to stay in Milan for rehearsals of a production there.