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Subject: Fwd: Aida at the Met / FT review
From: Bob Kosovsky <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bob Kosovsky <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 8 Nov 2016 14:24:40 -0500
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------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

https://www.ft.com/content/8e797862-a4db-11e6-8898-79a99e2a4de6


OPERA

Aida
Metropolitan Opera, New York
**
MARTIN BERNHEIMER


Soon after the curtain rises in Verdi’s +Aida+, the warrior-hero sings an
ode to his beloved, calling the pseudo slave-girl “celestial.” When the Met
revived its mock-Egyptian, hyper-conventional 28-year-old staging of this
masterpiece on Saturday, however, matters seemed a bit earthbound.

	Vital drama was turned into a lavish kitsch-spectacular. The
proceedings recalled oh-so-grand opera as depicted in those perennial New
Yorker cartoons.

	The stage squirmed with prancing priestesses worthy of Busby
Berkeley, martial spear-carriers making and re-making their rounds and
fleshy-flashy hoochy-coochy intruders slinking out of context. Everyone
preened unabashedly within Gianni Quaranta’s stately décors. Everyone struck
picturesque poses, marched solemnly and danced, after a fashion, all in
accordance with Sonja Frisell’s original movement plan (now overseen by
Stephen Pickover). The basic action – and inaction – may not have looked
much different when the opera had its premiere in 1867.

	On this occasion Verdi’s wondrous score was in the dauntless,
knowing hands of Marco Armiliato. He did his professional best, sometimes
successfully, to sustain contact with the uneven singers and to maintain
progressive tempos. The task could not have been easy.

	Liudmyla Monastryska, the Ukrainian soprano in the title role,
revealed a big, wild, wide-ranging, unwieldy voice, exquisite one moment,
strident the next. Marco Berti, her essentially stentorian Radamès, tried
valiantly to sing softly once in a while. Ekaterina Gubanova, the Russian
Amneris, looked terrific and sang with such emotional fervour that one
wished her mezzo-soprano were a size bigger and a shade darker. Mark Delavan
returned to Amonasro, the vehicle of his company debut in 2001 -- numerous
Wotans ago. He exuded authority despite some vocal decline.

 	Soloman Howard declaimed the King’s royal clichés with authority.
Dmitry Belosselskiy boomed healthily as Ramfis, a dull high priest.

	The enthusiasts out front, more voluminous than seems normal at
Lincoln Center these days, turned out to be relentlessly clap-happy. They
applauded the grandiose sets, especially when the scenery rose and fell on
cue in the triumphal scene. They also applauded the horses.


--
posted by
Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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