Aida at San Francisco OperaVerdi’s Aida returns to San Francisco Opera in a new production directed by Francesca Zambello, who says in a work that sometimes features onstage elephants, it’s important to remember that it’s actually “in many ways an intimate opera.” The design team includes Los Angeles-based muralist and former graffiti artist Marquis Lewis, also known as RETNA, and runs through December 6th.

There’s more information about the production at the San Francisco Opera website.

Zambella says after staging several productions of Aida, she got to the point where she didn’t want to see it again, but has since been wooed back by the depth of its music and story. “Aida is one of those operas, certainly for a director, that often leads to the director’s graveyard. It’s really… You know, it almost is a parody sometimes. But actually, we have to remember that Aida is in many ways an intimate opera. There is one huge scene, which I often think of as ‘the parking lot’ that landed in Memphis (as in Egypt)… and the rest of the opera is really small scenes. It’s two people, three people… So for the director, it’s really how do you create a world where the intimate, the basic storytelling can be told, and as well as also have a scene of spectacle that people are expecting.” Part of that was with the visuals: “I decided to work with a very different kind of design team. I had seen the work of the artist Marquis Lewis, also known as RETNA. And his work is often featured in big murals. Very modern contemporary style, but the style uses an ancient hieroglyphic or calligraphy at its base. I thought that felt so much like writing that you would see on a pyramid wall, but also writing that might be contemporary graffiti.”