Aida, opera by Giuseppe Verdi on libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a theme from François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette. First performed in Caïro on 24 december 1871. Performance at the Arena di Verona on 5 July 2019.
Amneris: Anna Maria Chiuri
Aida: Anna Pirozzi
Radamès: Murat Karahan
Ramfis: Giorgio Giuseppini
Amonasro: Sebastian Catana
A Messenger: Raffaele Abete
High Priestess: Yao Bo Hui
The age of opera began at the Arena of Verona over 100 years ago in 1913. It was a performance of Aida which marked that historic event. Ever since the opera has dominated the Arena with Aida being the most played (630 times). It is the most popular opera there.
Gianfranco de Bosio was inspired by the original staging of 1913 and recreated the sets with some updates in 1983. In 2019 it has started to show its age.
The monumental style suggested by the Aida story fits well into the Arena with its huge spaces. It has everything Egyptian you would expect: obelisks, sphinxes, monumental columns and huge statues of various gods. The costumes are fantasy Egyptian with white color dominating and some red and gold. There are the expected mass scenes and ballets.
In this staging everything was predictable – no negative surprises nor any positive ones. The triumphal march had everything you would expect including horses and dancers. I have seen and heard more exciting triumphal marches.
The choreography by Susanna Egri seems not to have been updated. It looked quite traditional and old-fashioned. The lightning by Paolo Mazzon is straight-forward without special effects.
Giorgio Giuseppini as Ramfis and Romano Dal Zovo as the King sang nicely. Ramfis started a little bit wobbly but settled soon into a steady performance.
Anna Maria Chiuri’s singing as Amneris was variable. Sometimes she sounded very beautiful and acted accordingly but as a whole she did not have enough power for the dramatic outbursts.
Sebastian Catana as Amonasro did not make a big impression. He did not succeed very well in the lyrical passages and in more dramatic moments he often barked.
The Radames sung by Murat Karahan was strange. He made a nice stab at “Celeste Aida” but ended it with a screamed last note. And he held that ugly note too long. Thereafter he was very bleak most of the opera. In the final scene he made a good effort to sing beautifully and he actually succeeded partially. Overall he was not up to the standard you would expect for the Arena of Verona.
Aida was sung by Anna Pirozzi. She is a very experienced singer and classifies herself on her website as a dramatic coloratura soprano. There is not much coloratura in Aida, but she sang the lyrical parts very beautifully. The dramatic parts were fine too.
I know one should not compare singers when they perform in different circumstances. I recently heard Anna Netrebko sing the Nile aria in a concert. Pirozzi’s performance of the aria was impressive but Netrebko’s was exceptional. The difference you experience between four stars and five stars-de-luxe. Pirozzi’s overall performance and acting as Aida was great, but maybe not great enough in comparison with the amazing Trovatore we experienced the previous evening.
The orchestra conducted by Francesco Ivan Ciampa was very good overall. Only in the triumphal march would I have liked a little more fervor and dynamics.
This evening was a mixed experience. I had the feeling of attending a dull routine performance with some average singers. Only Anna Pirozzi brought excitement into an otherwise average evening.
Kurt Gilek (Published on 9/7/2019)