Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Met Opera's 'Aida' an amazing production

Published:Thursday | October 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Anna Netrebko (left) sings her first Met Aida, going toe-to-toe with mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili (right) as Amneris in Verdi’s Aida.
Known for her lustrous voice, compelling dramatic characterisations, and alluring stage presence, Anna Netrebko stars Aida.

Not many operas demand as much from actors as Giuseppe Verdi's Aida. Portraying the complexity of a brutally realistic love triangle that corresponds equally with obligations to public duty can be a daunting task. But that was not the case for soprano Anna Netrebko, mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili and Alexsandrs Antonenko who, with aid from the production team, manipulated the demands with reat success.

Shown on screen Sunday, at Palace Cineplex, Sovereign Centre, Liguanea, in the Metropolitan Opera Live Series, the 1871 epic love story of Giuseppe is set in Egypt.

From the first act, the contrasting emotions of vulnerability and fearlessness straddled the roles of Aida (Netrebko), Amneris (Rachvelishvili) and Radames (Antonenko).

Aida, an Ethiopian slave, and champion Egyptian warrior Radames are in love. Aida's mistress, Princess Amneris is also in love with Radames. All three are loyal to their country, but their struggle to separate love of man from love of country, results in a love story of emotional anguish.

With a darker complexion Ryan Speedo Green playing the Egyptian King (instead of a more Caucasian looking actor), it was clear that it was the vocal quality of the cast that was paramount. .

That thinking worked as the actors, especially Ntrebko, carried her role well with powerful singing. She understood and showed the conflicted Aida with confidence.

The historic setting, was brought to life in a magnificent set designed by Gianni Quaranta. Grey boulders created a believable River Nile, and tall, imposing sepia-coloured columns reinforced the majesty of the Pharaohs and the desert. Seemingly not to be satisfied with his captivating constructed set, the designer delivered an element of surprise two live horses for Act II.


Priceless components


And for those watching the production on a screen, there was an additional priceless component - the treat of seeing the challenging technical apparatus used to move the set into place, such as the seven elevators built in the stage floor as well as a few rear wagons that transported items from the wings to the stage.

Costume designer Dada Saligeri also did an exceptional job traversing the story from its light beginning to its dark ending with gradual changing of costumes by the main characters. But no element was more riveting than Gil Wechsler's lighting design. It was obvious that the designer was interested in more than just making the actors visible on stage.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the final scene when he had the hapless Aida and Radames take their last breath to a slow blackout moving from their feet up to their heads as if he was drowning them in darkness. And above their tomb was the third of the triangle Amneris who was well lit and wrapped in a dark-coloured shawl.

Overall, Aida was well worth braving the rain to see. Next in the Met Opera series is Samson Et Dalia, on October 28, 2018, at the same venue.