"I am sending you an overture (the ink is still wet) with which we may perhaps precede Aida...in any event we still have the Prelude...You will see that at the end of the overture, when the trombones and double basses shout the song of the priests (2:32), and the violins and wind instruments scream the jealousy of Amneris, Aida's melody is played very loudly by the trumpets (3:04). That moment is either a mess or an effect." (Verdi to his publisher Giulio Ricordi, 28 December 1871).
The following example presents the last four minutes of the overture, starting with the melody associated with the jealousy of Amneris, followed by the song of the priests, Aida's theme, her theme played softly, and at 2:32 see Verdi letter above.
In the early years of Verdi's career he opened his operas with full length overtures, Nabucco for example. In the final two operas, Otello and Falstaff, he used no overture or prelude of any kind--nothing to introduce the drama. In two of his operas, Verdi composed both a prelude and an overture. The overture for La forza del destino of 1869 replaced the original prelude that had been composed for the premiere in St. Petersburg. In the case of La forza, Verdi composed the overture for the Italian premiere at Teatro alla scala. Two years later Verdi composed an overture for Aida for the Italian premiere. Unlike La forza, the Aida overture has never been used with the opera. It was first performed in 1940 by the NBC Symphony with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Toscanini had copied the score (without permission) from Verdi's manuscript hidden away at the composer's villa at Sant'Agata.
Tim Cordell 20 Sept 2013