Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Probing Bernstein and MacMillan double bill in Amsterdam

The Opera Forward Festival (OFF) in Amsterdam is about new things: new compositions, rediscovered works and new faces. This year’s program included a double bill produced by Dutch National Opera’s talent development wing. Leonard Bernstein’s portrait of a miserable marriage in affluent suburbia, Trouble in Tahiti, was the contrasting companion piece to James McMillan’s Clemency, a study of the sinister side of religious belief.

Macbeth in Lyon

A revival of the Opéra de Lyon’s 2012 Occupy Wall St. production of Verdi’s 1865 Macbeth, transforming naive commentary into strange irony, some high art included.

Barber of Seville Is Fun in Tucson

On March 4, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson. Allen Moyer designed the bright and happy scenery for performances at Minnesota Opera,

Moody, Mysterious Morel

Long Beach Opera often takes willing audiences on an unexpected journey and such is undeniably the case with its fascinating traversal of The Invention of Morel.

Acis and Galatea: 2018 London Handel Festival

Katie Hawks makes quite a claim for Handel’s Acis and Galatea when, in her programme article, she describes it as the composer’s ‘most perfect work’. Surely, one might feel, this is a somewhat hyperbolic evaluation of a 90-minute pastoral masque, or serenade, based on an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has its origins in a private entertainment?

Oriana, Fairest Queen: Stile Antico celebrate the life and times of Elizabeth I

Stile Antico’s lunchtime play-list, celebrating the Virgin Queen’s long reign, shuffled between sacred and secular works, from penitential to patriotic, from sensual to celebratory.

Daniel Kramer's new La traviata at English National Opera

Verdi's La traviata is one of those opera which every opera company needs to have in its repertoire, and productions need to balance intelligent exploration of the issues raised by the work with the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with an opera which is likely to attract audience members who are not regular opera-goers.

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.

Turandot in San Diego—Prima la voce

The big musical set pieces in Turandot require voice, voice, and more voice, and San Diego Opera has gifted us with a world-class cast of singing actors.

Dialogues de Carmélites at the Guildhall School: spiritual transcendence and transfiguration

Four years have passed since my last Dialogues des Carmélites, and on that occasion - Robert Carsen’s production for the ROH - heightened dramatic intensity, revolutionary insurrection (enhanced by an oppressed populace formed by a 67-strong Community Ensemble) and, under the baton of Simon Rattle, luxuriant musical rapture, were the order of the day.

'B & B’ in a new key

Seattle Opera’s new production of Béatrice et Bénédict is best regarded as a noble experiment, performed expressly to see if Berlioz’ delectable 1862 opéra comique can successfully be brought into the living repertory outside its native France. As such, it is quite a success.

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.



Arnold Rawls as Radames [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]
19 Mar 2012

Aida in Arizona

Two live camels with trainers in Egyptian garb were stationed in front of Phoenix’s Symphony Hall to publicize the opening of Arizona Opera’s new production of Aida.

Giuseppe Verdi: Aida

Click here for cast and production information.

Above: Arnold Rawls as Radames

Photos by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera


They symbolize the buoyant optimism that surrounds this rising company after several years under General Director Scott Altman. Budgets are in the black and artistic quality is rising. Aida is an ambitious work for any company, and Arizona Opera delivered a strong performance on the first of five sold-out nights in Phoenix and Tucson.

OptIMG_9417.gifDaveda Karanas as Amneris

In an era where opera companies must watch the bottom line, conveying the grandeur of this spectacular work poses a unique challenge. Arizona borrowed a set from New Orleans Opera by Canadian designer Philip Silver, which provided two-dimensional, minimalist faux-massive painted drops, accessorized with exotic statues. The latter were sometimes in Egyptian style, with impressive results in the Nile scene, and sometimes just generically ancient. Nashville Opera Director John Hoomes directed in a traditional but effective manner. The Triumphal Scene parade inevitably seemed a bit thin, but the audience was distracted by live animals—two dogs and the return of one of the camels. To its credit, the set design pushed the action to the front of the stage, boosting the vocal acoustics in Phoenix’s large multi-purpose hall.

OptIMG_9479.gifKevin Short as Amonasro and Lisa Daltirus as Aida

Aida was cast with a strong and well-matched set of regional-level American singers. To the title role soprano Lisa Daltirus brings a silvery tone, gossamer high notes, and intelligent phrasing. She used these qualities to make a memorable success of moments many sopranos fear, such as the infamous dolce high C in “O patria mia.” Yet the role of Aida demands not only this, but powerful low notes and passionate utterances that cut through heavy orchestration, which Datirus rarely delivers. While her characterization had integrity and pathos, at times she seemed to be tip-toeing through it.

Chicago-based Tenor Arnold Rawls is similarly more comfortable at the top than the bottom of the range required for Radamès. His lack of a fine-spun piano and unvarying color undermined quietly transcendent moments, as in most of the final scene; but elsewhere Rawls made satisfying use of vocal warmth, stentorian high notes, and fine phrasing. “Celeste Aida,” for example, was phrased impressively on one breath into the second verse, and—after some savvy preparation—ended on an impressively long and ringing b-flat.

OptGF3X9370.gifRebecca Sjowall as High Priestess, Arnold Rawls as Radames, Daveda Karanas as Amneris and Peter Volpe as Ramphis

As Amneris, Greek-American mezzo Daveda Karanas, a graduate of cross-town Arizona State University, possesses a tightly focused, slightly steely voice that easily penetrated the orchestra—rather in the mold of Fiorenza Cossotto. Her interpretation is that of a mature artist, and she is a compelling actress. The voice lacks—perhaps as of yet—quite all the warmth, color and amplitude that the greatest exponents of this role possess, but her traversal of this role in a smaller theater—she is slated to sing the role at Glimmerglass Opera this summer—would be worth traveling to hear.

Altman favors even casts with strong voices in smaller roles, particularly lower male parts. Amonasro does not require great subtlety, and Kevin Short, an American baritone based in Europe, did not provide it—but he was commanding when it mattered. The veteran Ramfis, Peter Volpe, displayed a voice of impressive weight and color. In an era of soggy Verdi conducting, Steven White proved refreshingly willing to push the tempo along, achieved some lovely transitions and orchestral balances, and kept the forces together in the face of a few opening night mishaps.

Andrew Moravcsik

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):