Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Aida at Opera Carolina

          
   
    Bookmark and Share
  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    7,242
    Post Thanks / Like

    Aida at Opera Carolina

    Aida, opera in four acts (premiered in Cairo on December 24, 1871)
    Music by Giuseppe Verdi
    Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni

    New production by Opera Carolina, Charlotte, NC
    Sung in Italian, with English subtitles
    October 19, 20, 24, 27, 2013 (this review is of the last show)

    The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro James Meena
    The Opera Carolina Chorus (Alina MacNichol, President), and the Johnson C. Smith University Chorus (Dr. Shawin-Allyce White, Director)
    Stage director Brian Deedrick
    Set Design Roberto Oswald
    Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel
    Lighting Design Michael Baumgarten
    Costume Design Annibal Lapiz

    Cast (in order of appearance)

    Ramfis, High Priest - Sun Yu
    Radamès, Egyptian Captain of the Guard - Antonello Palombi
    Amneris, Princess of Egypt - Irina Mishura
    Aida, enslaved Ethiopian princess - Othalie Graham
    The King of Egypt - Sean Cooper
    A messenger - Baxter Nash
    High Priestess - Xela Pinkerton
    Amonasro, King of Ethiopia - Mark Rucker

    8 dancers
    10 supernumeraries
    52 members of the Opera Carolina Chorus
    33 members of the Johnson C. Smith University Chorus

    -----------

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	544.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	52.3 KB 
ID:	2904

    With 111 people on stage between singers, dancers, choristers, and supernumeraries, plus the conductor and the large Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in the pit, one must say that Opera Carolina didn't cut any corners as far as Aida productions are concerned. No animals, though, except for some flies and mosquitoes, said Italian tenor Antonello Palombi. His colleague, American baritone Mark Rucker, added that this is just as he likes it: Aida should have no elephants, or if there is an elephant, it must wear diapers since these beasts can be unpredictable. Chatting with artists at the end of the show, one could tell by these jokes that they were happy and exhilarated with a job well done. Maestro Meena was equally in good mood, making his own contribution to the humor: when Russian mezzo Irina Mishura said that this group felt like a family after they took this show to Toledo for two runs and to Charlotte for four more for a total of six weeks together including rehearsals, Maestro Meena observed: "a dysfunctional family!"

    No dysfunction could be noted during the performance. We've been to many Aidas of variable quality, but this one was done right. First of all, casting was first rate. Mr. Palombi who commands extensive experience in his native Italy including performances at his country's most prestigious houses La Scala, La Fenice, and Teatro San Carlo, and numerous other European houses, was solid as expected in the role of Radames. His Italianate phrasing was particularly moving in the final scene.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	543.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	52.0 KB 
ID:	2906
    Ms. Graham and Mr. Palombi

    Ms. Irina Mishura who has sung Amneris more than 200 times since 1985 including at the Metropolitan, Covent Garden, La Scala, and the Vienna Staatsoper, is another confirmed singer who impacted upon her character not only exquisite elegance and dramatic intensity with her good acting, but also delivered an impressive vocal performance. Another experienced singer, Mr. Mark Rucker debuted at the Met exactly in the role of Amonasro nine years ago, and his characterization of the Ethiopian king was flawless.

    Of course, no Aida succeeds without a compelling leading lady. Ms. Othalie Graham is the self-confessed baby in this production, since by virtue of being a more recent graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, she disclosed that she grew up listening to her more experienced colleagues and was thrilled to see herself on stage with them. Her youth and relative lack of experience when compared to her more seasoned co-workers, however, were not detrimental to her performance. Much the opposite, Ms. Graham was a phenomenal Aida, bringing to her character not only her convincing physique du rôle thanks to her beauty and charm, but also deeply felt pathos, and a rich and powerful voice with very pleasant timbre. Read her exclusive Opera Lively interview by clicking [here].

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	542.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	91.1 KB 
ID:	2905
    Ms. Mishura and Ms. Graham

    As usual, Maestro Meena's conducting was top-notch, and the excellent Charlotte Symphony responded in kind with smooth transitions and purity of sound in the delicate moments, and enough punch in the pompous ones.

    Blocking was well done, dealing efficiently with the 111 people on stage, which never appeared to be overcrowded. The physical production was very handsome, not only in the scenes with the large pharaoh head depicted above, but especially in the dark and ominous statues and tomb for the final scene. Lighting was very efficient in underlining the somber tone of this ponderous production. Unlike some Aida shows that bet on abundant doses of pomp and circumstance (including elephants, horses, and the such), the stage director and set designer seem to have privileged the pain and suffering involved in this story. It was a dark, thick, gloomy Aida, and it worked. The gravitas impacted upon the staging was noticeable, for example, in the Triumphal March, which wasn't really a march, since it had no parade and no large movement of people from one side of the stage to the other. Rather, singers and actors remained relatively static on stage, while the eight dancers performed what appeared to be a sensual choreography with attractive female Ethiopian dancers... until the Egyptians got to slain the Ethiopian dancers, with an almost shocking explosion of violence and gruesome stabbings, reminding the public that this is a story about war and cruelty, and not one of pleasant and happy celebrations.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	546.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	46.1 KB 
ID:	2907

    This emphasis on the harsher aspects of the opera freshened this familiar piece sufficiently, to the point that we didn't have the impression that we were seeing "just another Aida." When we add to this, the precision of the sounds coming from the pit and the quality of the vocal performances of all four principals, we are left with a memorable Aida, one that will occupy a spot in our short list of most interesting productions we've seen of this piece, and one that was a fitting tribute to Verdi's bicentennial. Opera Carolina did it again: brought a workhorse to Charlotte while avoiding any possible boredom, which is not the easiest task for operas such as this one. We look forward to the continuation of the season, which contains two more adventurous choices: Il Trittico (January 18, 23, and 26), and The Flying Dutchman (March 22, 27, 30).
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 28th, 2013 at 06:54 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. Likes Hoffmann, MAuer liked this post
  3. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    7,242
    Post Thanks / Like
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Opera Carolina Aida 009.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	60.3 KB 
ID:	2909
    The maestro with the cast

    From the chat with the artists at the end, more funny bits came up. When asked how he keeps such an intense level of energy on stage, the very experienced Mr. Palombi replied: "because I'm young!" Later he did add that the level of energy is possible when the artists feed from the public. An enthusiastic public like the one in Charlotte greatly contributes to motivating the artists.

    Ms. Graham, when asked if the performance is physically demanding, said she was not only tired, but starving, given that before the show they typically don't eat a lot. A member of the audience then gave her a portion of nuts, which she enthusiastically started eating.

    Chinese bass-baritone Sun Yu was also very funny in his description of how happy he is that he is performing opera in America - in China, he says, opera has still trouble getting established, given the competition with other traditional art forms: "We were doing Das Rheingold in Beijing and at the beginning of the performance, the house was full. At intermission, they were all gone!"

    An audience member asked - "You are singers, how do you learn how to act?" The Maestro said: "Act? What is that?"
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 28th, 2013 at 06:31 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. Likes MAuer liked this post
  5. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    7,242
    Post Thanks / Like
    From the playbill, we learned an interesting fact about Opera Carolina: the company in its outreach program has touched 42,690 people in the year 2012/2013: 28,258 children saw the Opera Express performances in 70 different schools in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina; 2,068 students attended Student Night with a dress rehearsal performance; 5th grade field trips gathered 12,237 students, and the Opera Carolina Academy provided 27 voice students with workshops.

    Bravo, Opera Carolina!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #4
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    1,389
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    From the playbill, we learned an interesting fact about Opera Carolina: the company in its outreach program has touched 42,690 people in the year 2012/2013: 28,258 children saw the Opera Express performances in 70 different schools in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina; 2,068 students attended Student Night with a dress rehearsal performance; 5th grade field trips gathered 12,237 students, and the Opera Carolina Academy provided 27 voice students with workshops.

    Bravo, Opera Carolina!
    Now, Luiz, if I recall correctly, you don't approve of such outreach - as resources inefficiently applied.

  7. #5
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    7,242
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    Now, Luiz, if I recall correctly, you don't approve of such outreach - as resources inefficiently applied.
    True. But I always said that it is not that I'm against having the children involved. If you re-read my posts about it, I always clarified that I wasn't saying it was a bad thing in itself; just, that if an opera company needs to choose between A and B in order to foster ticket sales, A being the young demographic, and B being the older one, B is more efficient, even considering the long run, as there is no proof that A is actually effective. I just think that if strapped for cash there are more efficient uses of the available resources in terms of returns regarding ticket sales (such as, publicizing the offerings to older demographics). Since Opera Carolina seems to operate in the black and seems to enjoy sold-out houses every time I go there, and since they already do outreach to the adult demographics as well (such as their Bravo! program), if they have extra resources to entice children, then fine. And the 27 scholarships for voice students' participation in workshops are undoubtedly a worthy cause. When a company can do it (can afford A *and* B) and continues to sell out, then, fine. When on the other hand a company can (barely) either afford A or B (not both), cuts on the number of performances, faces empty seats, but still chooses to persist with an expensive outreach program for the population A (and we do see examples of that), then the resources are not being efficiently used. That's all that I was saying, as unpopular and politically incorrect as the opinion might seem. In numerous posts about this topic I made this clarification.

    Maybe it is important that companies that do well financially and enjoy sold-out houses such as Opera Carolina continue to engage in A, given that less fortunate companies shouldn't be doing it; so, at least somebody outreaches to children. Should cash-strapped companies do it? In my opinion, they shouldn't; as noble as the cause sounds, they need to be pragmatic to survive.

    But have I ever said that outreaching to children is a bad thing in itself? No, I haven't. Inefficient in terms of ticket sales, yes, but bad, no, and desirable as a purely artistic endeavor even when it doesn't make financial sense, yes (as long as properly done - and one of the characteristics of the Opera Carolina program - and as you'll see next when I publish the article about the Greek National Opera, that's what they do as well - is that they don't just only expose kids to performances, but they actually get the kids to participate in the production phase and to perform themselves in the operas they run in schools - which is a much more interesting way to entice them. Hopefully if kids get to plan for these performances and get to sing in them, they'll be more likely to be bitten by the opera bug.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 28th, 2013 at 05:33 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. Likes Hoffmann liked this post

Similar Threads

  1. Article: Aida at Opera Carolina - Announcement and Interview with Othalie Graham
    By Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) in forum CMS Articles - Comments Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: October 10th, 2013, 09:23 PM
  2. Aida at the Cincinnati Opera
    By MAuer in forum Opera House & Theater Performance Reviews
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: July 19th, 2013, 05:08 PM
  3. Aida at North Carolina Opera
    By Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) in forum Opera House & Theater Performance Reviews
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: May 4th, 2013, 05:01 PM
  4. Article: NC Opera Events around Aida in Raleigh, NC
    By Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) in forum CMS Articles - Comments Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: April 17th, 2013, 06:27 AM
  5. Aida at the Met (November 29 2012) Opera Review
    By Tardis in forum Opera House & Theater Performance Reviews
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: December 2nd, 2012, 03:42 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


free html visitor counters
hit counter




Official Media Partners of Opera Carolina

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of Opera Carolina

Official Media Partners of NC Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of North Carolina Opera

Official Media Partners of The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute and Piedmont Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute
of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Piedmont Opera

Official Media Partners of Asheville Lyric Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of Asheville Lyric Opera

Official Media Partners of UNC Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of UNC Opera
Dept. of Music, UNC-Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences

www.operalively.com

VISIT WWW.OPERALIVELY.COM FOR ALL YOUR OPERA NEEDS