Last night, I saw a production of Verdi’s Aida with a friend who came over for the weekend. It was a grand affair at the colossal Stade de France whose capacity of 80,000 seats was full but for the top two rows and whatever the orchestra took up. With 500 actors in gorgeous costumes marching faultlessly on 400 tonnes worth of sand covering the arena, the horse-drawn chariots making their way through the array of obelisks and pillars and roars from the tribunes, the show thoroughly deserved its tag of a “spectacle pharaonique“.

The sound was far from perfect for the most part, with orchestra overpowering the singers in a near cacophony, but at times, especially when Aida sang her arias, it was just right. At no point, however, did the imperfections of the sound take away from the breathtaking visual impressions. The final scene with stars flowing from the centre of the arena to the tribunes and up until the entire stadium was a gently blinking starry sky, was magical.

I was impressed with the flawless organisation and execution, the calmness of everyone involved and last but not least with the way that the what must have been a 70,000 strong crowd dispersed through the exits, walked to the metro station and entered the trains without a problem. Oh, and the fact that the stadium featured free Wi-Fi that allowed me to share with friends while the “men in black” were resetting the scenery in one seamless motion and the man on the big screen was explaining what had just happened and what part of the story would follow.

A feast for the eyes, just slightly less so for the ears, but an undoubtedly unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience. Bravo!