Verdi's grand opera Aida was composed for the new Cairo Opera House, built in 1871 as part of the celebrations to mark the opening of the Suez Canal. In Aida, Verdi created a masterpiece of spectacular opera in the Italian style whose pomp and ceremony, fanfares and triumphs scarcely conceal the infinite sadness which emanates from the music. Aida is one of Verdi's most perfect scores in its atmosphere, characterisation and seemingly inexhaustible supply of melody. The Arena di Verona, built in the first century B.C., provides a natural and apt setting for Aida. The cast is led by the soprano Maria Chiara in the title role, with Fiorenza Cossotto, one of the great interpreters of Amneris, Nicola Martinucci as Radames and Giuseppe Scandola as Amonasro.