REVIEW: Aida at Bristol Hippodrome
By Carol_Deacon | Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 09:09
The singing was spectacular and the scenery stunning so it's a very big round of applause to the Bristol Hippodrome for staging yet another lovely night at the opera.
Opera tickets sell-out at Bristol Hippodrome
I have now seen three operas – Madame Butterfly, Tosca and on Saturday night Aida at the city centre theatre.
And all the sell-out performances have been superb but I suspect if opera buffs could vote for a Bafta-style award for the best individual so far it would go to the outstanding Korean-born singer Elena Dee.
Miss Dee played the title role of Aida, the Ethiopian slave girl imprisoned in an Egyptian palace.
She is a slip of a girl with extended arm gestures and she confounds the 'fat lady' stereotypical image of an overweight soprano with a huge bosom.
Although for this show a little more cleavage than planned was revealed by one of the harem dancers after a wardrobe malfunction.
This super trouper also deserves an award for carrying on regardless,
Aida is directed by world-renowned opera and ballet producer Ellen Kent and stars an impressive line-up of international soloists from the Chişinău National Opera, the national opera company of Moldova.
Luckily for the home crowd the words are flashed across the top of the stage in English although multi-talented linguist Nadezhda Stoianova who took the part of the Amneris, the daughter of the king of Egypt, can sing in Italian, French, Russian and German.
The knobble-knees of the love-interest and captain of the guard didn't do it for me but some hearts were trembling for Romanian tenor Sorin Lupu playing Radames.
Iurie Maimescu as the high priest Ramfis along with the kings of Egypt and Ethopia played by Eugen Ganea and Petru Racovita respectively were among those to take many well-deserved bows at the end.
This is a new production and brings the hot, dusty plains and dramatic grandeur of ancient Egypt to the stage in Giuseppe Verdi's classic love story of war, jealousy and revenge.
Basically like many operas it is a love triangle caught up in the futility of war and like Madame Butterfly where the heroine tops herself and the dramatic leap from the ramparts by Tosca it all ends in tears only this time the defeated lovers are punished by being buried alive!
With opulent sets and costumes, this traditional production is as stunning visually as it is musically, featuring some of the greatest pieces of music Verdi ever wrote, with the well known arias Celest Aida, Ritorna Vincitor and the great chorus piece the Triumphal March.
I have to say at one moment I thought they were going to burst into the song 'Just one Cornetto' and in my head the chimes of the ice-cream van were ringing.
Luckily I will not be put to death for this thought and will be full of grace and repeat several Ave Marias, also written by Verdi for his 1887 opera Otello.
It was wonderful to have the musicians from the National Philharmonic Orchestra playing and talented extras aged from four years upwards from the dance school Stagecoach based in Portishead.
Next I'm off to see La traviata in April with six friends which is part of the nationwide Fallen Women series by the Welsh National Opera.
The first show is Manon Lescaut by Puccini and is a co-production with the Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa, Warsaw and the Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels.
There will be a free pre-performance talk at 5.30pm and curtain up is at 7.30pm on Friday, April 11.
La traviata plays on Saturday, April 12, and is a co-production with Scottish Opera.
The Bristol Hippodrome has a full line-up of fantastic shows for 2014 including opera, pop, ballet and one-off star performances.
Its 2014 programme includes Dirty Dancing, Singin' in the Rain, Mousetrap and the fabulous Barry Humphries - The Eat, Pray and Laugh Tour this month.
To see full programme and ticket information click HERE.