Setting Aida on fire!

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AidaFrom temple dancers and exotic birds to ballet sequences and an explosive wall of fire, there’s nothing on stage that quite meets the magnitude of Aida.

Coming to the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on 29 September, the famous opera tells the story of Ethiopian princess Aida, who is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt.

Falling in love with Military commander Radames, the pair flee into the desert. However Radames is soon discovered and condemned to be entombed alive. As he is sealed in the vault, he realises that Aida has hidden herself there so they can be together until death.

“Aida is big and epic – it really is the big boy of opera,” says award winning opera producer Ellen Kent. “Opera has to be the biggest and dramatic experience of theatre. It’s everything audiences want in one show and they will be truly overwhelmed by what they see because all of their senses will be tickled at once.

“We’ve got massive sets, a superb cast and our very own fire wall, so it really is spectacular,” adds the 64-year-old, who has also worked on Nabucco and La Boheme. “I’ve spared no expense on the pyrotechnics – they’ve cost about £8-£10,000 for something that lasts about a minute.”

Indeed, featuring pyrotechnic displays and lighting effects, where a wall of fire extends across the stage in a massive burst of flames, the producer isn’t afraid to think big.

“Last time I had a golden eagle and a white stallion, so this year I wanted to do something a bit different,” she says. “And this time we’re quite literally setting Aida on fire. But all of my special effects are done for a reason – they’re never precarious.”

However, although Ellen loves her big effects, she’s also keen for the show to have a heart. So, with the help of local performers including a fire spinner from Westcliff and youngsters from Southend Theatre Art’s Stage Coach, she’s hoping the show in Southend will have just that.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for local youngsters to be in a magnificent production on stage,” says Ellen. “And now, you don’t have to go all the way to the West End to see the show, it’s here in Southend.

“In my opinion, it’s the best score Verdi ever wrote,” she adds. “It’s exotic and interesting and the music is simply spectacular.

“Even now, it’s my ambition to stage Aida on the banks of the Nile with a cast of thousands – although right now it’s far too dangerous in the middle east.”

Aida will be playing at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on Sunday, 29 September. To book tickets, call the Box Office on 01702 351135 or visit thecliffspavilion.co.uk for more information.

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