Aìda – For the reader
Budden, Julian Budden’s 3-volume study of the operas of Verdi is definitive. His discussion of Aïda, sometimes a bit technical for the non-musician, is in the third volume.
Busch, Hans Verdi’s Aïda: The History of an Opera in Letters and Documents is a collection of all the surviving letters about the opera, together with various documents to do with the work. These include a couple of contracts; “Information on Egyptian Antiquity by an Unknown Scholar”: the answer to various questions Verdi had asked Ricordi to provide; Verdi’s own notes for a production he supervised in Parma in 1872 (interestingly, they were in a libretto, not a score!); production notes by Franco Faccio who conducted the Italian première at La Scala; most interesting is the inclusion of Giulio Ricordi’s “Production Book.” Based on the original La Scala production, it was sent to Opera Houses that had secured the performance rights to the opera. Exhaustive, and/but fascinating!
Hughes, Spike Famous Verdi Operas. Just that. He has selected the most famous operas and writes about their creation and their music.
John, Nicholas, ed. Aïda. English National Opera Guide. This contains the Italian libretto with an English singing translation. As well as a list of recordings available at its publication in 1980, the booklet contains a number of interesting essays.
Osborne, Charles The Complete Operas of Verdi: an Interpretative Study of the Librettos and Music and their relation to the Composer’s Life. A long title indeed! But it describes the book perfectly.
Walker, Frank The Man Verdi. Originally published in 1962, this biography still has much to offer us.
Weaver/Chusid, eds. The Verdi Companion. A collection of essays on various aspects of the composer by authors ranging from the great philosopher Isaiah Berlin to the composer Luigi Dallapiccola, with various in-betweeners!