Theater review

NC Opera succeeds with grand opera ‘Aida’

CorrespondentMay 4, 2013 

  • Details

    What: Verdi’s “Aida” presented by N.C. Opera

    Where: Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center, Raleigh

    When: 3 p.m. May 5

    Tickets: $25-$83

    Contact: 919-792-3850

— N.C. Opera has made great strides in three seasons, its productions of modern works generally outshining those of the classics. But Friday’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” in Memorial Hall proved the company’s finest grand opera presentation.

The production was labeled a semi-staged concert version, but it came close to full staging. The soloists were richly costumed and there were beautifully detailed props. Projections on the back wall and mood-enhancing lighting added theatricality, along with six columns that were cleverly rearranged to suggest temples and tombs.

In front of the onstage orchestra, director David Paul kept the drama moving with as much interaction as found in full productions. Even the Triumphal March had satisfying processions of troops and treasures.

In many ways the night belonged to the orchestra and chorus. Conductor Timothy Myers was in masterful control of every phrase, bringing out the subtleties of Verdi’s score as well as the stirring drama. Scott Macleod’s chorus impressed mightily with its rhythmic precision and rich blend.

As the Ethiopian slave Aida, soprano Angela Brown produced thrilling top notes that soared over the orchestra. Her dramatic outbursts had exciting bite, although in lyrical passages her voice could become unfocused and tremulous. Leann Sandel-Pantaleo’s lean but penetrating mezzo gave the king’s daughter Amneris an appropriately villainous tone.

Both women employed outsized gestures and posturing that sometimes became excessive, but their confrontations had gripping intensity. Andrea Edith Moore’s off-stage Priestess was hauntingly ethereal.

The men were quite impressive, starting with tenor Issachah Savage’s Egyptian commander Radames. His middle-range voice was extremely beautiful and clear, while his high notes rang out brightly, if sometimes pressured and short-breathed. Todd Thomas’s splendid baritone gave Aida’s father, Amonasro, chilling menace and paternal warmth.

Bass Kenneth Kellogg had dignified authority as high priest Ramfis. Donald Hartmann’s King and Wade Henderson’s Messenger rounded out the solid cast.

Those in search of a gratifying grand opera experience should not miss Sunday’s repeat in Raleigh.

Dicks: music_theater@lycos.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service