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Aida turns stadium into operatic oasis

More than 50,000 people are expected to descend on Basel's football stadium to see Aida. www.basel.ch

Basel's football stadium has been transformed into a spectacular 30,000-seater sandpit for one of the biggest events ever staged in Switzerland.

This content was published on June 18, 2003 - 18:39

Tons of sand, horses, camels and a bird of prey have been drafted in for the performance of Verdi's "Aida", at a cost of around SFr5.5 million ($4.2 million).

More than 1,000 actors, extras and technicians took part in the event at St Jakob Park on June 19 and 21.

Most of the singers, musicians and dancers were local, with the Basel Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Theatre choirs and the Basel ballet and circus schools supplying performers.

Intimate event

The production by the Dutch company, "Companions Opera", has been previously performed before an audience of 52,000 in Paris.

"Compared with Paris the Basel event is a rather intimate one," said producer Peter Kroone.

"The feedback to our previous performances has been fantastic. The high quality and attention to detail creates a work of art that combines music, choir, opera singers and animals - everything runs very smoothly and fits perfectly together," he added.

Preparations for the performance have been going on for three weeks. These have involved spreading 60 truckloads of sand across the football field.

"The sand will cover the whole field as well as the front row," said Kroone.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

An area bigger than 8,250 m² will be covered with 420 m³ of sand.
The artificial lakes will be filled with more than 110,000 litres of water.
Twenty-two lorries will transport the material.
The Swiss authorities banned crocodiles from the event.
The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi wrote Aida in 1870.
It was first performed on December 24, 1871, in Cairo.

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