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Bruce Edwards

Last evening’s performance of Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi, was the kick off show of the Edmonton Opera’s 2012/13 season. This piece, although the fifth time it has been run in Edmonton, is in celebration of the 200th birthday of the master craftsman, Verdi. This piece is an homage to the great composer, although he was met with many failures throughout his life, this piece is an example of his excellent potential.

Verdi’s Aida, is a tragic Egyptian love triangle. We see an Egyptian commander fall in love with the slave of Pharaoh’s daughter who also is the daughter of the King of the invading Ethiopian army. However, Pharaoh’s daughter also has her eyes set on the commander, Radamès. There is great conflict between military secrets, loyalties, and the driving forces of love.

This production is blessed to have many wonderful voices, including Angela Brown, in the lead role of Aida. She has been called one of the most promising Verdi sopranos, and our stage at the Jubilee Auditorium is blessed to have her. She has been singing this role around the world from New York to South Africa for the past nine years. All the voices we heard were quite a treat to experience, however, occasionally the voice of Elena Bocharova slipped beneath the many powerful voices around her.

The set design and construction was truly the epitome of professional theatre. Every scene the curtain raised, we were treated to a new orientation of the giant set pieces on the stage. These visions were accompanied by great vocal exclamation from many of the patrons. The stage was centered by a large Egyptian sculpture which was often dynamically lit to set mood and emotion alight. The set changes were truly awe inspiring and formed sharp lines to fill in the proscenium with Egyptian glory.

The chorus were a treat to experience as these pieces filled the entire auditorium with strong and full voices. They filled the set up with merchants, slaves, and nobles; their voices and their physical presence really drove the epic experience. Occasionally their inability to synchronize and function as a single unit was distracting from the experience, however the more organic and natural scenes were simply beautiful.

This production closes Thursday evening and goes to show the Edmonton Opera is something that must be experienced. It runs two hours and forty-seven minutes with a twenty minute intermission.

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Bruce Edwards