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AIDA - Sydey Opera House (NSW)

By Giuseppi Verdi. Conducted by Stuart Stratford. Directed & Choreographed by Davide Livermore


Reviewed by Juliana Payne

Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House

Now playing–21 July 2023

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

6–20 December 2023


3 STARS


- A visually stunning, if stunted, spectacle that still draws in audiences due to its captivating music and storytelling -


Aida is one of those operas that never seems to fail to captivate audiences and media with its grand sets that usually involve sphinxes and pyramids. People just love Ancient Egypt. However, with the new digital screen capability now well bedded down in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the traditional kind of clunky old physical sets designs have been replaced with stunning cinematics and imagery - in this case by D-Wok. Their visual impact is so remarkable that one runs the risk of gushing over the digital design and forgetting about the rest of the performance, so it’s best to try and focus.


The story of Aida is as familiar as a favourite old jumper. Even non-opera types would recognise the classic tragic love triangle: she loves him but he loves her so she hates her and seeks awful revenge on her. And because ‘she’ is the Egyptian princess Amneris, her revenge is nasty. Elena Gabouri in this role had all the fun – she got to play with the full range of villainous qualities from gleeful meanness, to triumph, scorn, deception, and vengefulness. Leah Crocetto, as Aida, while projecting emotional depth and achieving amazing things with her voice, just gets to look miserable all the time.


Photo Credit: Keith Saunders


The performers all demonstrated exceptional vocal prowess, no complaints there. The arias and duets resonated with power and beauty, and the orchestra, under the baton of the conductor, Stuart Stratford, beautifully captured the range of emotions from joy to heartbreak. Aida’s great internal conflict - between love of her country and family, and her love for Radames - plays out in towering musical and vocal scenes.


While visually stunning and musically enchanting, this performance could have benefited from a more dynamic approach to the stage to truly elevate the experience. Apart from the intervening dance numbers, the set pieces were just that – rather more like tableaux than a dynamic drama. With the digital backdrops providing an ever-shifting array of images and colours, it seemed to highlight the static nature of the staging. Aida is a story of passion, love, and conflict, and it would have benefited from more dynamic movement on stage. At times, the blocking seemed rigid, limiting the potential for the characters to fully express their emotions through physicality.


The exceptional performances and breathtaking visuals ensure an unforgettable evening at the opera.

Additionally, the pacing of the performance could have been tightened. Some scenes linger longer than seems necessary, diluting the dramatic impact. By injecting more energy and momentum into these moments, the production could have achieved a stronger emotional resonance.


Despite these minor criticisms, this production is powerful and engaging, and the exploration of themes of love, duty, and sacrifice will resonate deeply with contemporary audiences. The exceptional performances and breathtaking visuals ensure an unforgettable evening at the opera.

 

Cast & Creatives - Sydney

CONDUCTOR Stuart Stratford (19 Jun–6 Jul)

Tahu Matheson (8–21 Jul)

DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHER Davide Livermore

REVIVAL DIRECTOR Shaun Rennie

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Danielle Maas

SET DESIGNER Giò Forma

COSTUME DESIGNER Gianluca Falaschi

LIGHTING DESIGNER John Rayment

DIGITAL CONTENT DESIGNER D-Wok


AIDA Leah Crocetto (19 Jun–6 Jul)

Natalie Aroyan (8–21 Jul)

AMNERIS Elena Gabouri (19 Jun–4 Jul)

Agnieszka Rehlis (6–21 Jul)

RADAMÈS Najmiddin Mavlyanov (19 Jun–6 Jul)

Diego Torre (8–21 Jul)

AMONASRO Warwick Fyfe (19 Jun–6 Jul)

Michael Honeyman (8–21 Jul)

RAMFIS Roberto Scandiuzzi

THE KING David Parkin

HIGH PRIESTESS Jane Ede

MESSENGER Thomas Strong

Opera Australia Chorus

Opera Australia Orchestra


Cast & Creatives - Brisbane

CONDUCTOR Lorenzo Passerini

DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHER Davide Livermore

REVIVAL DIRECTOR Shaun Rennie

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Danielle Maas

SET DESIGN Giò Forma

COSTUME DESIGNER Gianluca Falaschi

LIGHTING DESIGNER John Rayment

DIGITAL CONTENT DESIGNER D-Wok


AIDA Natalie Aroyan

AMNERIS Elena Gabouri

RADAMÈS Diego Torre

AMONASRO Michael Honeyman

RAMFIS Alexander Vinogradov

THE KING Conal Coad

HIGH PRIESTESS Jennifer Black

MESSENGER Dean Bassett

Opera Australia Chorus & Opera Queensland Chorus

Queensland Symphony Orchestra



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