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"Aida" was Giuseppe Verdi’s final grand opera. Indeed, when he returned to composing operas after a 16-year retirement following "Aida," Verdi turned to Shakespearean sources to create his final two masterpieces, "Otello" and "Falstaff."

Perhaps the composer felt he couldn’t go any further with grand opera after "Aida." After all, it contains everything audiences wanted - and still want - from Verdi: forbidden romance (between an Egyptian officer and an enslaved Ethiopian princess), exotic locations, a tragic ending and, best of all, Verdi’s soul-stirring music.

For its first Brooklyn Center appearance, on Feb. 13 at 2 pm, Opera Verdi Europa (pictured) would seem to have all the ingredients in place to do justice to both Verdi’s classic score and the demands of one of his most-beloved operas: the orchestra’s lavish productions have been praised wherever they perform, particularly during their debut tour of the United States in 2003. Italian conductor Luciano di Martino leads the orchestra.

Formed in 1996 by Ivan Kyurkchiev in Bulgaria, Opera Verdi Europa consists of more than 100 of the best musicians and performers, and their "Aida" should be the ideal Valentine’s date for lovers of tragic opera.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ Whitman Theatre is located one block from the junction of Nostrand and Flatbush avenues. Tickets are $40. For more information, visit the Web site at

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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