December 6, 2013
Tributes still pouring for Verdi bicentenaryTuesday, September 3, 2013
New Aida goes flat despite good work by singers
This year the world — at least the opera-loving part of it — celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of opera’s greatest composers, Giusepe Verdi (1813 – 1901). So all kinds of events have been planned to commemorate the date: concerts, recordings, lectures, films and, of course, opera performances. Opera is one of the most complete and expensive arts but, even so, tributes to Verdi have been planned all over the world — rather modestly in Argentina, where nothing grand has been envisaged.
Performances of Verdi’s operas have been staged, anyway, by the Colón and different private companies. And Traviata (not a very original choice) had been planned by the Argentino of La Plata but it folded before it went on stage.
One of the private companies mentioned is new, in fact: a group called Melodramma Asociación Civil, whose mission is to support the arts, especially opera. So they joined in the Verdi festivities with a production of no less than Aida, the spectacular, ambitious masterpiece, one of the most popular operas in the whole repertoire. A daring project indeed, for it has very demanding conditions if it is to be staged and cast properly.
This was not the case in the Avenida, BA’s second opera house, whose size is more modest and whose stage was overcrowded at times, which was more often than not. Actually, the triumphal scene was a visual mess. The most remarkable feature of this modest production was an overture, a pleasant potpourri of the opera’s melodies that replaced the usual prelude. Apparently it was only used by Verdi, Arturo Toscanini and, more recently, Daniel Barenboim. But no mention was made in the programme about its existence nor its raison d’être.
Besides the overture, this Aida had a reassuringly standard but flat production. No flights of fanciful so-called talent, no staging in other century fashions and so forth.
Above all, adequate singers were engaged. Haydée Dabusti took the title role; she has a full, pleasant, rounded spinto voice which she uses tastefully, just right for the role and she acts the part well. The same can be said for the unexpected (his name was not in the programe) Andrés Griecco, a vocally splendid but wooden Radamés who at the very last minute replaced the already engaged tenor, who had fallen ill. Edinea Oliveira’s passionate, vocally uneven Amneris, had many good moments. Douglas Han was a fine, fiery Amonasro and both the King and Ramfis displayed sonorous, black bass voices.
The chorus, directed by Pablo Quinteros made a splendid, exciting sound. The programme did not mention the names of the stage director nor the orchestra’s conductor but I learned they were the experienced Eduardo Casullo and the Italian Ronaldo Rosa De Scalzo, who did a fine job. Fine choreography by Luciana Prato (no male dancers, here). Ditto the orchestra. Good costumes by Casullo (also in charge of the lights). And a minimalist, almost non-existent set by Hugo Ciciri.