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Kazakhstan discovers outdoor opera; Verdi's Aida comes first

Photo © Astana Opera/photographers: Karla Nur Photo © Astana Opera/photographers: Karla Nur

Kazakhstan is discovering outdoor opera. Giuseppe Verdi's Aida opera was presented on the square in front of the Pyramid in Astana on July 1, Tengrinews reports.

The stage was assembled in front of the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, nicknamed the Pyramid by the locals. The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev attended the open-air opera performance.

 The unusual project was organized by the Ministry of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the Astana Opera theatre. The theatre brought 20 containers of decorations and props. The stage, decorations and audience zone took around 10 days of hard work to assemble.

"I was surprised with the decorations, when I walked up to the audience zone I saw that they have decorated not only the stage but also the stage entrance. Everything was decorated in the Ancient Greek style. What was most surprising is the way they used our Pyramid. We are used to viewing it as the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, but it was transformed with a video projection. Basically, they did not have to create a pyramid for the opera we had already had one. That was the perk, to use the existing pyramid and decorate everything around it," one of the visitors Assemgul said.

She added that a couple days before the show, the organizers dressed and made volunteers up to look like Ancient Egyptians. The volunteers walked Astana streets promoting the event and creating a special atmosphere prior to the event.

"I think everyone in the city knew about the event. They even had horses in the city; you could take a picture with them. (…) Opera taking place outside and not inside the theatre is also very interesting. The organizers used all the opportunities - the actors even rode real horses. Basically, a horse cavalry marched to the middle of the stage. It was amazing," the Astana native said.


"Open air play is a special genre in theatre. A great number of factors from had to be considered - massive theatrical space, unusual angle of the stage, extended number of actors, great number of visitors, special light and video equipment," the organizers said prior to the event. 

Luxurious decorations were created using the designs made by exceptional stage designer and director Franco Zeffirelli and complimented by vivid installations. In addition, during the opera various lighting and special effects were used. Grand fireworks erupted at the end of the opera performance to mark the Astana Day (celebrated on July 6).

All photos © Astana Opera/Photographer Karla Nur

Well-known Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev performed the role of Radames, while the lead singer of the Astana Opera Zhupar Gabdullina played as Aida. All in all, the opera performance employed over 300 people. Abzhal Mukhitdinov conducted the opera.  

Aida opera took place on July 1 as a part of the celebrations dedicated to the Day of the Capital. Viktor Karare, the curator of artistic productions said that the Astana Opera was willing continue staging open air performances provided that the general public was interested in seeing them.

By Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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