PORTLAND – War rages between two countries while the fate of two lovers hangs in the balance in Giuseppe Verdi’s most powerful opera, “Aida,” to be presented Thursday, Jan. 15, at Merrill Auditorium.

The noted European touring opera company Teatro Lirico d’Europa will stage a production of “Aida” that the Boston Globe calls “stylish and elegant,” distinguished by its “ferocious dramatic presence.” The performance, brought to Merrill by PCA Great Performances, will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Verdi’s opus tells the tale of the beautiful Ethiopian slave Aida and her fated love for the heroic Radames. The title role is sung by internationally acclaimed American soprano Kellen Esperian, whose credits include Mimi opposite the Rodolfo of Placido Domingo in “La Boheme” at the Metropolitan Opera and Lina opposite Jose Carreras in La Scala’s premiere performance of Verdi’s “Stiffelio” in Milan.

Esperian and the remaining cast of Aida – including up-and-coming Romanian tenor Virel Saplican in his first U.S. tour as Radames – will be accompanied by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

PCA Offstage will offer a free lecture about “Aida” by Ellen Chickering, noted soprano and professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Music in Gorham. The lecture will run from 6 to 7 p.m. in the rehearsal hall prior to the Jan. 15 performance.

Tickets for “Aida” are $53, $46 and $38. They are available through PortTix, the box office at Merrill Auditorium; by calling 842-0800; and at www.pcagreatperformances.org.



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