The Met’s Memorable Revival of Aida

08/10/2018

Verdi, Aida: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Metropolitan Opera, New York / Nicola Luisotti (conductor). Broadcast live to the Dundonald Omniplex Cinema, Belfast, from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, 6.10.2018. (RB)

Anna Netrebko and Aleksandrs Antonenko in Aida (c) Marty Sohl

Anna Netrebko & Aleksandrs Antonenko in Aida
(c) Marty Sohl

Cast:
Aida – Anna Netrebko
Amneris – Anita Rachvelishvili
Radamès – Aleksandrs Antonenko
Amonasro – Quinn Kelsey
Ramfis – Dmitry Belosselskiy
The King – Ryan Speedo Green

Production:
Production – Sonja Frisell
Set Designer – Gianni Quaranta
Costume Designer – Dada Saligeri
Lighting Designer – Gil Wechsler
Choreographer – Alexei Ratmansky

Live in HD Host – Isabel Leonard
Live in HD Director – Gary Halvorson

Sonja Frisell’s production of Aida was first performed at the end of the 1980’s and it is no surprise that it has been revived so many times at the Met. The incredible scale and spectacle of the sets continue to take the breath away. Frisell follows the libretto by setting the action in ancient Egypt and she provides us with imposing palaces with enormous pillars covered with hieroglyphs, temples with towering statues of Egyptian Gods and Pharaoh’s, and a dark, hermetically sealed sarcophagus at the end of the opera. The transition in Act II from Amneris’ chamber to the Grand Gate of Thebes was a coup de théâtre: as the chamber descended from sight another platform containing the assembled populace came down from the ceiling. During the Grand March sequence there were hundreds of chorus members and extras on stage, all wearing imaginatively designed period costumes, and live horses cantered across the stage before Radamès himself came in on an imposing horse drawn carriage.

Anna Netrebko has increasingly moved to weightier dramatic roles over the course of her career and in this production she gave a performance that matches some of the greats of the repertoire including Leontyne Price and Monserrat Caballé (who sadly passed away recently). Netrebko is a superb actress and she completely transformed herself into the Ethiopian princess. We watched her constantly being torn between her love for Radamès and her love for her father and her country. The vulnerability and powerlessness of her situation was there for all to see but this did not prevent her from showing flashes of anger.  Netrebko’s singing was quite simply out of this world. In Act II her voice rose magnificently above the assembled chorus and orchestra in a show of awesome dramatic power. She sang Act III’s ‘O Patria mia’ with exquisite beauty of tone producing supple, perfectly shaped legato phrases while investing every word with care. In the final duet where Aida sings her farewells, Netrebko’s soft gossamer lines soared above the stage in the most wonderful way.

Georgian mezzo-soprano, Anita Rachvelishvili was equally impressive in the role of Amneris. The Act II scene where she confronts Aida about her love for Radamès was a dramatic tour de force. Rachvelishvili moved from providing the open hand of friendship to a molten jealous rage which saw her towering above Netrebko who was crawling away from her in terror. Rachvelishvili was also at pains to show us Amneris’ humanity and in Act IV we saw the soul of this very flawed and jealous character wrestling with the consequences of what she had done. Rachvelishvili was impressive throughout the vocal range and she produced gorgeous tone colours which perfectly captured her scheming, her tyrannical bullying, her jealousies and her invective against the injustice of the priests. Her Act IV scenes in particular were extraordinary and I have never heard them sung as well as this.

Latvian tenor, Aleksandrs Antonenko, gave an accomplished performance in the role of Radamès although I felt he was overpowered by the two lead female performers. He gave an assured performance of ‘Celeste Aida’ in Act 1 although some of the top notes were not quite as clean as I would have liked. He did a good job balancing the lyrical and dramatic demands of the role and I thought he was at his most impressive in the Act III confrontation with Aida. There were some intonation problems at various points in the opera which perhaps show he is not as secure as he might be in this role and he was not able to match Netrebko in the final scene. Quinn Kelsey gave a fine performance in the role of Amonasro. He ratcheted up the dramatic tension brilliantly in both his Act II and Act III encounters with Netrebko and he sang with great authority and beauty of tone. Dmitry Belosselskly and Ryan Speedo Green also acquitted themselves well in the roles of Ramfis and the King.

Nicola Luisotti’s pacing of the material was generally very good although some of the tempi he adopted were a little slow. He had an eye to detail in the introductory orchestral material but he really let his players off the leash in the big set piece numbers which were monumental when they came. The Met Orchestra were firing on all cylinders throughout the evening and I was particularly impressed with the strings. The Met Chorus raised the roof during the grand Triumphal March and were clearly on fine form.

This was an evening of truly memorable music making. Netrebko and Rachvelishvili brought the house down and were both deservedly greeted with a standing ovation.

Robert Beattie

For more about The Met:Live in HD this season click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

Comments

  1. Carol Reel says:

    It may have sounded better in the Met, but in HD Antonenko’s acting was wooden, his appearance uninspiring & his voice “metallic” even when he was not struggling to reach the high notes. With any luck, I will never see or hear him again. I felt so sorry for Netrebco & Rachvelishvili as they sang in spite of him. I have attended the HD performances regularly ever since they began. This was one of the few disappointments.

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Sundays for a Fiver Festival in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre Reopens in December 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! See Pop-Up Opera’s La Tragédie de Carmen this Autumn __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Chamber Music Festival October 2018 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! Jacqui and David Morris’s New Documentary Film Nureyev Celebrates a Unique Man and Dancer __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! JACK BUCKLEY’S MEMORIES OF LINDSAY KEMP (1938-2018) __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GESUALDO SIX IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Appreciation Talks this Autumn from Helen Astrid __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST GEORGE HARLIONO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Major Work by Stanford to be Premiered – 99 Years Late! __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR ALEXANDER SLADKOVSKY IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month