King Stingray, Opera Australia’s Aida Review: Sydney 20-25. June

Aida ★★★★
Opera House Joan Sutherland Theatre, until July 21st

Davide Livermore’s production of Verdi Aidawith sets by Gio Forma and digital design by D-Wok, replaces the triumphant pageantry that traditionally accompanies this work with hyper-real digital images that appear on mobile screens and dissolve like scenes in a fantasy video.

Metallic serpents glide, crimson clouds swirl, and lightning flashes across moonlit waters. Wild beasts, Egyptian figures in profile and a naked goddess with a swelling belly gaze, all filled with a disturbing, hypnotic gaze. These digital images create a tension of their own alongside the eternal, irreconcilable conflict of love and loyalty that Verdi so masterfully develops.

Leah Crocetto plays Ethiopian Princess Aida in this Opera Australia production.

Leah Crocetto plays Ethiopian Princess Aida in this Opera Australia production.Credit: Keith Saunders

Leah Crocetto as Aida has a voice of enveloping power and warmth, supporting the Act I monologue with color and expressively sculpted line, and floating masterfully over the choir and orchestra in the Act II triumphal march.

As her rival Amneris, Elena Gabouri has a voice with a firmer edge that is effective in dramatic moments. She sang her climax scene with tragic vigour, maintaining her strength in both the screaming high notes and the guttural tones in the low register.

As the hapless hero of Radames, Najmiddin Mavlyanov had the most natural and attractive voice of the cast, with nutty-brown richness and supple intensity that was not overdone, allowing it to maintain a fresh bloom.

The duets in this opera are crucial to the unfolding of the narrative’s central conflicts.

In contrast, Warwick Fyfe erupted with energy and grim defiance as Aida’s father, the defeated Ethiopian king Amonasro.

Roberto Scandiuzzi as the vengeful high priest Ramfis had a powerful voice, haughty and imposing. As King, David Parkin sang with a slimmer, piercing tone.

Justin Scaccy

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