Thursday, September 09, 2010

SFO: Aida Dress Rehearsal

Aida Dress Rehearsal
San Francisco Opera
Final dress rehearsal for Aida

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Jo Davies
Production Designer: Zandra Rhodes

Aida: Micaela Carosi
Amneris: Dolora Zajick
Radames: Marcello Giordani
Amonasro: Marco Vratogna
Ramfis: Hao Jiang Tian
The King of Egypt: Christian Van Horn
Priestess: Leah Crocetto

Messenger: David Lomelí

7 September 2010, 1:30pm
War Memorial Opera House

I was part of the sizable audience for this final dress rehearsal of Aida, which opens the fall season this Friday. The colors of the sets & costumes are bright & sunny, dominated by light blue, yellow & gold. The scenic designs are flat & child-like. The performers wear elaborate outfits & often look like toys. The maids in Amneris's room are an army of Cleopatras. 4 little girls entertain Amneris with a twirling dance. For Triumphal Scene spectacle we get plenty of exotic costumes, 6 on-stage trumpeters dressed as King Tut, a troupe of acrobats & a life-size blue elephant puppet, straight out of The Lion King. In the tomb scene Radames is lowered to the stage in a metal cage that looks like something David Copperfield would escape from in a Las Vegas show. The production is often visually dazzling, but it does not fit the tragic tone of the opera.

Maestro Luisotti's conducting is fluid & tasteful. He never overplayed the music. There were beautiful solos from the woodwinds & the 1st trumpet. Marcello Giordani will no doubt be a reliable Radames with his Italianate voice & clear high notes. His Aida, Micaela Carosi, seemed to be saving her voice, so I did not get much of an impression of her performance. Hao Jiang Tian has a low & even voice as Ramfis. Dolora Zajick makes Amneris the most prominent personality in the opera, & she will probably bring down the house in the judgment scene in Act III. Marco Vratogna as Amonasro impresses me with his masculine, taut sound & ease when moving on stage.

There is only one intermission, & the curtain has to come down for 2 scene changes that take several minutes, during which the audience naturally becomes restless. The dress rehearsal audience reacted boisterously to the performance & especially Ms. Zajick. During the curtain calls, Adler Fellow David Lomeli raised a laugh when he performed the "We are not worthy" gesture as Mr. Giordani came out for his bow.

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