The Metropolitan Opera – Sonja Frisell’s production of Verdi’s Aida – Liudmyla Monastyrska, Ekaterina Gubanova, Marco Berti, Dmitry Belosselskiy; conducted by Marco Armiliato

Aida – Opera in four Acts to a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni after a scenario by Egyptologist Auguste Mariette [sung in Italian, with English Met Titles by Christopher Bergen]

Aida – Liudmyla Monastyrska
Radamès – Marco Berti
Amneris – Ekaterina Gubanova
Ramfis – Dmitry Belosselskiy
Amonasro – Mark Delavan
The King – Soloman Howard
A Messenger – Eduardo Valdes
A Priestess – Jennifer Check

Navarra Novy-Williams & Bradley Shelver – Dancers

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Marco Armiliato

Sonja Frisell – Production
Stephen Pickover – Revival Stage Director
Gianni Quaranta – Set Designer
Dada Saligeri – Costume Designer
Gil Wechsler – Lighting Designer
Alexei Ratmansky – Choreographer

Reviewed by: David M. Rice

Reviewed: 11 November, 2016
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera's production of Verdi's AidaPhotograph: Marty SohlThis performance of Verdi’s Aida generated little excitement, Marco Armiliato and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra outshining the singing and action. Sonja Frisell’s staging, from 1988, is among the oldest in the Met’s active repertory and now one of its most spectacular – especially since several Franco Zeffirelli productions have been dropped in recent years – but display could not make up for static direction and some disappointing singing from Marco Berti. Verdi placed Radamès’s ‘Celeste Aida’ in the opening scene, inviting a thrilling start, but the tenor’s clarion voice became too overpowering, even for this large auditorium, resulting in harshness of tone more akin to shouting than singing – a problem that recurred intermittently.

Others fared better. A standout was Ekaterina Gubanova as a vengeful Amneris, her smooth and rich voice resonated beautifully across her range. Liudmyla Monastyrska was an ardent Aida, with added depth and coloration as the performance progressed. Mark Delavan and Dmitry Belosselskiy gave creditable accounts as Amonasro and Ramfis, respectively, and Soloman Howard was quite impressive as the King.

Armiliato, a veteran of Aida at the Met, drew stylish playing, the strings delicate, harps expressive and brass powerful, not least the visible trumpeters in the ‘Triumphal March’ as supernumeraries paraded by. In that scene, Gianni Quaranta’s monumental set, Dada Saligeri’s opulent costumes, and Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography stole the show.

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