Noilly Prattle: A Clockwork Aida

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Clockwork Aida

We are seeing a performance of Verdi's Aida tonight at the State Opera in Prague. We attended our first opera of the season there last week with La traviata. We thought that Josef Moravec the tenor (Alfredo) and Svatopluk Sem the baritone (Papa Germont) were very good to excellent. The soprano in the title role, Anna Todorova, however left much to be desired. She is singing the title role again tonight in Aida. We are setting the bar a little lower for tonight's performance in hopes of a pleasant surprise. Maybe she just wasn't up to snuff for the La traviata performance. 

I hope, I hope!

WOW! OMG! What can one say about near-perfection. This Aida, at the State Opera in Prague, is the kind one dreams about being in the audience to experience. No! The One. This performance, with Anna Todorova in the title role, was more than the pleasant surprise I was hoping for, it was, without exaggerating, a revelation. I am not an easy operagoer to please, but this show kept me engaged, not to say, mesmerized from the tightly controlled Overture to the opening aria, Celeste Aida, more than competently delivered by tenor Nikolaj Višňakov, to the closing “Pace” by the brilliant mezo-soprano Veronika Hajnová. The great Yelena Obraztsova would be proud.

Ms. Todorova seemed like a different singer from the one who sang La traviata last week. She was a consummate Aida—subtle and clean, clear highs whether delivered at full power or barely audible easily heard in the balcony. Her O Patria Mia was sparkling. It was sheer delight listening to all these wonderful artists giving a bravura performance across the board. 

balcony front row center
A word about seating. Tonight we were sitting in the rafters right in the front row center—completely unobstructed view of orchestra pit and stage. Seen in this position the orchestra and the action on the stage are completely integrated, and performing in clockwork precision as a whole. The pit makes the base of a triangle with its focal point downstage halfway up. You have to imagine this triangle in the photo on the right. In this way the orchestra is the principal actor always upstage center. The action takes place in the middle ground and downstage in a classic performance, neither lavish nor minimalist—just great music, costumes, setting and acting. 

As I said, near perfection.


G. Verdi: Aida
Cast: Jan 19, 2012
Hein, R.
Todorova, Anna.
Hajnová, Veronika.
Višňakov, Nikolaj.
Cavalcanti, M.

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