“David McVicar has a vision that’s completely different”, she says. “He wants us to think about the origins of the characters and why they do what they do. It’s not just slaves, triumphs and so on. Instead we focus on motivations, on the human side of the story”.
“Aida is a princess, not an ordinary slave. She knows about political matters”, says Ms Carosi. When Amonasro is brought in as a captive, Aida’s first thought is for her father. “Tu! Prigioniero!” she says, with great feeling. But he whispers back “Non mi tradir!” (Do not betray me). “From that moment”, Ms Carosi says, “the drama changes”. Aida loves Radames, but she must protect her father and her country. “Duty first, love second. You do not often see this side of Aida”, she adds,”but it shows she has a very strong personality and a lot of courage”. Outwardly, Aida has to present the image of a slave. Inside, she knows her mission.
Micaela Carosi has created Aida many times, including with Franco Zeffirelli. There’s a wonderful photo of him kissing her on her website. She’s in full costume, having come right off stage after a performance at the Arena di Verona.
Verona is a large performance space, best filled with high drama. “I had to wave my arms a lot”, says Ms Carosi, gesticulating expressively. She must have been wonderful in performance. Zeffirelli also chose her to sing Aida at Teatro Verdi in Busseto during the Verdi centenary in 2001. The theatre at Busseto is small, with a different ambience. “I think that was one of the best productions ever. Zeffirelli really understands the difference, so he showed how to create the characters in an intimate way”.
Ms Carosi is looking forward to singing Aida at the Royal Opera House in London because it is a house which favours closely focused productions. “Usually you see the elephants, you hear the trumpets, but this time, McVicar wants attention on the personality inside the roles”. Radames, for example, which will be sung by Marcelo Álvarez, will return from battle covered in blood. “He’ll be a real warrior”, says Miss Carosi, who has worked with Álvarez several times in the past.
Aida of course will be presented as a woman of depth and intelligence, a characterization that comes naturally to Ms Carosi, who studied Modern Literature and Music History at the University of Rome. Her parents were artists, and taught the history of art. “In the conservatoire, you learn how to sing”, she says, “but I think we need more than just musical education. We need to understand the connection between all the arts and the time that they came from”. In Verdi’s time, theatres were smaller, often without electricity, so audiences were closer to the performers. Audiences were also passionately well-informed about opera, eagerly awaiting new works.
Micaela Carosi has created many major roles in the Italian operatic repertoire, and is deeply immersed in its aesthetic. Although she has sung Aida so often, she feels that each new production is stimulating because it opens new perspectives. She finds that being an artist means “being open. You can’t do the same thing by routine all the time. Every performance is an opportunity to learn something new and improve your understanding.” In London, she’ll be singing with a cast she knows well — Marcelo Álvarez, Marianne Cornetti, Marco Vratogna, Giacomo Prestia, Robert Lloyd and the conductor Nicola Luisotti. “The atmosphere is good”, she says, “It’s a “nuovo impresa”, a bold new venture.
Micaela Carosi sings Aida in a new production at the Royal Opera House London from 27th April 2010.