Monday, May 25, 2009

Aida: tragedia per il tenore in 4 atti

The last night opening of Aida in Athens makes a perfect example of how the performance by a sole singer can turn a night from gold to ashes.

In a 4,000+people Odeon of Herodes Atticus, with the expectation being higher than high, especially due to Dolora Zajick's first appearance in Athens and with a great cast of singers, there was a link particularly weak, not weak enough though to undermine the excellent interpretations by the rest of the singers.

Beginning with (Ana) Lucrecia García whose rich, velvety, round voice matched Aida ideally. Being evidently in excess stress when she stepped on stage, she soon found her way through and offered us an Aida to remember. An homogeneous, fresh voice, and a good technique though still not mature enough dramatically.

Dolora Zajick, as expected, delivered a haunting interpetation of Amneris. Even if being in pain due to a knee problem, even if fighting with the bizarre accoustics of the Odeon, La Zajick was there in full glory, giving us chills with her low notes and chest voice and leaving us in awe after the final duet with Radamés and the Judgement Scene.

Dimitris Platanias as Amonasro totally dominated the stage with his ferocious, majestic approach to the King of Ethiopia. His Amonasro left no room for sympathy, his, was a menacing, fierce warrior . The two key-pages, "Questa assisa..." and the duet with Aida, were exemplary and his loud ovation at the curtain calls was well deserved.

Dimitri Kavrakos, a veteran Ramfis, demonstrated once again his class even if the signs of time have left their wrinkles and Dimitri Kassioumis in the limited part of the King displayed qualities of a great musician.

La Gran Sacerdotessa, Eleni Voudouraki and il messaggero, Zacharias Tsoumos, deserve special note, as with their excellent performance gave special interest to two roles that usually pass unnoticed.

Sets, costumes, stage direction: Trully spectacular sets by Giuseppe de Filippi Venezia and costumes by Carla Galleri and Domenico Franchi-I really liked those-
typical Aida-ish, kitschy enough for a grande spettacolo (if you like minimalism then you should probably watch Bob Wilson's Aida-not recommended though), gold and more gold and even more gold and palm trees and egyptian chic and all these things we love to hate and criticise in productions like this one, but done with love towards opera and respect towards the audience (nothing like last year's parody of Turandot).

The stage direction by Ignacio García Fernandez had some good and some quite awkward moments, always in the context of creating a grand spectacle but lacked originality. I´m also pretty sure that most people who didn´t know the opera and couldn´t follow the greek surtitles must have thought that at the end Aida and Radamés get married and live happily ever after (but without O2) while the fat lady over the temple is strewing flowers to the happy semi-dead couple.

We said it last year and we will just have to repeat ourselves: We luv the enthusiasm of the orchestra when Carlo Montanaro is conducting. Though not at the high level I had expected (last year's Boccanegra grew my expectations), and even if the celli still win the battle of worst section of the orchestra, their playing was accurate and vivid and matched the singers' volumes. Same for the Coro who did a great job.

We luv u 2 Carlo

Unfortunately, as stated previously, tenor Avgust Amonov, "outshone" his colleagues (NOT), with his Radamés. Acting like a nerd rather than a warrior, with his constant yelling of the high notes -
by the way,the notes are there - his poor frasseggio and pronunciation, gave us a reason to rest our hands from applauding during the curtain calls.
However and for what it´s worth, Amonov was called on short notice to replace Marco Berti who cancelled a few days before the premiere due to laryngitis.

(Definitely not the right way to wear a crown)

ps. The last Aida at the Odeon was in 1993, with Giuseppe Giacomini and Maria Dragoni.

Before that:

In 1991 with Vladimir Popov and Natalia Rom
In 1971, Gianfranco Cecchele and Ella Lee
In 1965, with Carlo Bergonzi and Marcella de Osma


mahler76 said...

Let's hope today is even better. See you there babe!

Hariclea said...

So the Celeste Aida was not so ..devine after all? Still envy you for that Amneris... ohh, my favourite mezzo role!!! Io son amica tuaaaa, tutto da me avraii... vivraaaaiii felicee!! ;-) Beautiful!! I had to laugh when you mentioned gold... what will McV make out of Aida i wonder? :-) Enjoy the rest of the run, hope with first night nerves gone it will be better. :-)