Opera North’s concert version of Aida at Leeds Town Hall is undoubtedly packed full of talent. From the insanely impressive orchestra, conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong, through to the strong main cast of singers, it’s nothing short of magic to bring together such a high calibre of performances.
However, after nearly three hours of a night at the opera, I’d had enough. Aida is subtitled on fairly small screens on either side of the stage, meaning by the second half I’ve had enough of straining my eyes trying to bother reading it. The volume is also deafeningly loud and the fact the pieces goes on… and on… and on… doesn’t help. Even the applause at the end of the piece is uncomfortably lengthy.
Aida tells the story of an Ethiopian woman who falls in love with an Egyptian. Both traitors of their own countries, the two struggle to find acceptance of their love. Alexandra Zabala is quite a weak Aida, while her love rival Alessandra Volpe as Amneris shines with her powerful voice, if a little too powerfully portrayed. Rafael Rojas as Radamès and Eric Greene as Amonasro are both spectacular performers and their portrayals work well in this concert-style version.
My main problem is I like a captivating show. I like to be wowed by slick scene changes and clever choreography, feel the collective joy and admiration from an audience. Unfortunately this is quite a sedate, uninspiring piece and I’m more bored than enthralled. For lovers of classical music and live orchestras this is probably fine – but there’s not enough in this to grab my attention and, furthermore, keep it.
To find out what’s coming up with Opera North, visit their website.
Photograph credited to Clive Barda