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Subject: AIDA at Washington National Opera to open this weekend with 9 performances and stellar casts (dress-9/6/17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 7 Sep 2017 10:07:37 -0400

text/plain (71 lines)

I took a couple of hours off yesterday evening to attend the first two acts dress rehearsal (performed as one act here) of the new WNO Aida (a joint production between WNO, San Francsisco (where it debuted), Seattle and Minnesota (where it will be seen in the coming year).

In a short discussion with patrons prior to the Francesca Zambello spoke about the production and how is is not set in any specific place or time but the costumes give a feel of late 19th century (I say neo-fascist/foreign legion look) for the men, with simple flowing gowns for the women that could be from the 1960's with the bouffant hairdos and almost psychedelic feel of swirly patterns; I loved Amneris bright yellow flowing gown with shiny silver accents for Act I.

From the start, conductor Evan Rogister exhibiting a loving delicacy for the music and the orchestra sounded superb going from pianissimi to fortissimi with ease. I loved Jessica Lang's dancers and even the young boys who dance in Amneris' chambers. The set from RETNA offers a lot of huge glyph-like walls, hangings and more which at times to me looked more Asian than Egyptian, but this really didn't matter as this show is all about the singing with TWO spectacular casts (I will see both in full performances in the house on September 9th and 17th matinee). 

The triumphal scene sounds big, but doesn't offer a lot visually other than Radames being rolled in on a giant glyph chariot, but the lighting was excellent and the chorus excelled at each turn. Bleachers left and right hold the chorus with two platfomrs with thrones in front of them with stairs leading up for the King & Amneris.  There was some terrific choreography and bravura dancing as well here. The brown tarp wrapped booty brought in at the end looked almost cheap; I wouldn't have carried that back from another country!

I don't tend to speak about the singers themselves as this is a dress and therefore it's not fair. Ms. Wilson's "Ritorna vincitor" gave us an ethereal "numi pieta" and for the first two acts an Aida that acts like a slave and never really allows her royalty to emerge. She was dressed in a truly drab blue and brown gown lending to her "mediocrity." 

Mr. Robinson's Ramfis, in a black fez-like hat (all the priests wear these later), military garb underneath with a black sheer ribbed floor-length robe over it, was a forceful figure and at times I thought he was going to explode in the triumphal scene when Radames asked for pity for the prisoners. Mr. Solomon, with his equally bravura bass, gave the king a true royal feeling.

I look forward to hearing everyone sing full voice and writing more about our opening production of what should be a terrific season in DC!

>     Aida:
>     Tamara Wilson (9/9, 13, 16, 18, 21 & 23)
>     Leah Crocetto (9/10M, 15 & 17M)
>     Amneris:
>     Ekaterina Semenchuk (9/9, 13, 16, 18 & 23)
>     Marina Prudenskaya (9/10M, 15, 17M & 21)
>     Radames: 
>     Yonghoon Lee (9/9, 13, 16, 18, 21 & 23)
>     Carl Tanner (9/10M, 15 & 17M)
>     Amonasro:
>     Gordon Hawkins
>     Ramfis:
>     Morris Robinson
>     The King:
>     Soloman Howard
>     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>     Director:
>     Francesca Zambello
>     Conductor:
>     Evan Rogister 
>     Original Sketches & Concept Design:
>     RETNA
>     Associate Director:
>     E. Loren Meeker
>     Set Designer:
>     Michael Yeargan
>     Costume Designer:
>     Anita Yavich
>     Lighting Designer:
>     Mark McCullough
>     Choreographer:
>     Jessica Lang
>     ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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