BWW Reviews: AIDA, the Larger-Than-Life Verdi Opera, Comes to the Met for Another Season
Aida has been among the most popular operas in the Met's repertory since the "German Seasons" in the 1880s and this season's production follows suit. This Sonja Frisell 1988 production of a classic Verdi opera left the audience feeling a wide range of emotions from beginning to end. From the vast Egyptian landscapes to the extraordinary musical talents, Aida at the Met this season is a production to remember.
From the moment the curtain rises, Štefan Kocán (Ramfis) commands the stage with his rich bass tones and sinister appearance. Very quickly appears a Metropolitan Opera favorite, Roberto Alagna, to perform his demanding opening aria, "Celeste Aida" filled with heartfelt agility to produce a solid performance right from the beginning, demonstrating his resonant top notes.
A glorious Met debut for Liudmyla Monastyrska who brings a full bodied and mature soprano voice to the title role. A native of Kiev, Ukraine, Ms. Monastyrska's commandingly huge voice was alluring both when emoting over the entire chorus sound in Act II as well as in the softer moments in Acts III and IV.
Olga Borodina, another house favorite, sings with nuance while performing a fervent and explosive Amneris. Using the power of her extremely low register, Ms. Borodina commands her power over Aida very naturally. This brawny portrayal wanes as the production continues until her heart-wrenching plea that ends the production.
The scale of Aida, complete with horse and carriage and scenic elements that exceed the trim height of the Met's immense stage are extremely impressive despite the lack of solid staging and movement. The stoicism of many scenes, despite their static nature, are breathtaking among the incalculable numbers of bodies compacted onstage. The design team brought timeless Egypt to life on stage while the Met orchestra under Fabio Luisi added further power both to the setting of the opera and the depth of these characters. Forgiving the chorus women's costume mishap at the end of the first Act, the entire production is a well-calculated and breathtaking piece of work. Even the final poses of each act were staged in such a way that the closing of the curtain added to the performance.
Aida only has three performances remaining but if you are free, I highly recommend this production to anyone. Visit metopera.org or call (212) 362-6000 for more information and tickets to these last performances.