Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Spectacular Aida
by Christie Connolley
In the mood for truly GRAND OPERA? Fewer operas are more grand than Verdi’s Aida, as evidenced by the recent production for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. John von Rhein recently reviewed the production for the Chicago Tribune. Check out the Operagasm Review Rundown!
Our generation is woefully under Verdi-tized! “As every opera lover knows, ours is not exactly a golden age of Verdi singing. With full-fledged Italian dramatic voices in short supply, even the major opera companies must scramble to assemble even satisfactory casts for such enduringly popular if vocally demanding fare as Verdi’s “Aida.”
Except in Chicago: “Surprise! The international cast Lyric Opera has assembled for its first set of performances of the Verdi work — the grandest money machine in grand opera — is one of the strongest the company has fielded in the 29 years the Nicolas Joel production has held the boards at the Civic Opera House.”
Go big or go home! “Aida,” which had its first performance of the season on Saturday night, perfectly satisfies the craving most opera-goers have for big vocal display, lavish spectacle and intimate human tragedy, all wrapped in some of Verdi’s most gloriously inspired music.”
I say BRAVA! “Sondra Radvanovsky has become Chicago’s Verdi lyric-dramatic soprano of choice. Aida is her latest Verdi role at Lyric, following her successful Amelia, Elvira and Leonora, and it made a good vocal and dramatic fit. The voice has grown in size and depth, if not invariably in color, with each role. Aida’s great aria, “O patria mia,” drew the evening’s biggest ovation, and for good reason. The American soprano invested the romanza with lustrous sound and a melting legato, floating the soft climactic phrases ravishingly. Whenever the music soared, so did Radvanovsky.”
Whomp, whomp: “Giordani left a rather more mixed impression. The Italian tenor struck the requisite stalwart poses and cut a heroic figure despite the unflattering wig and outsized robe-cum-breastplate with which costume designer Pet Halmen outfitted Radames. The voice remains healthy and he still can trumpet clarion high notes to the back of the house. But his inability or unwillingness to sing softly (the high B-flat at the end of “Celeste Aida” was delivered in standard can-belto fashion) and the loss of vocal presence in the middle and lower registers were worrisome.”