Originally commissioned to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal and the opening of Cairo’s new opera house, Verdi’s Egyptian epic Aida is here seen in a spectacular new staging specially mounted by the Teatro Regio Torino to celebrate the re-opening of Turin’s historic Museo Egizio, home to the world’s largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of the Cairo Museum.
Conducted by the Teatro Regio’s Music Director, Gianandrea Noseda – one of the world’s finest Verdians and Musical America’s Conductor of the Year 2015 –, Turin’s authentically Egyptian staging is directed in true Hollywood style by the Oscar-winning American film director William Friedkin, creator of such famous movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection. Aida is perhaps best-known for the sonic splendour of its famous “Triumph” Scene – a rousing military march-past, complete with onstage “Egyptian trumpets”. But Verdi’s grandest opera is also amongst his most intimate, focusing as it does upon the privateemotions experienced by the three victims of a tragic love-triangle: Radamès, Egypt’s victorious general, and the two rival princesses who adore him, the Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris and her Ethiopian slave Aida. Amongst the first-rate cast, critics singled out the American sopranoKristin Lewis, who exhibits “a remarkable voice, which she uses withpowerful dramatic instinct” (La Stampa), and the Georgian mezzosopranoAnita Rachvelishvili, whose Amneris “dominates the stage with her dark, rounded, irrestistible voice and extraordinary stagepresence” (La Gazzetta Musicale). And all were united in praise of Noseda: “he controls everything – orchestra, singers, chorus, dancers, acrobats – with an allencompassing overview” (La Stampa); “he knows exactly when it’s time to linger over a timbre, a colour, an expressive chord” (Corriere della Sera); “he draws from the score colours of a rare beauty, creating magnificent carpets of sound” (ResMusica); and, in the final scene in particular, “he resolves the expressive contrasts and the vocalinstrumental dialogue with remarkable dramatic insight and orchestral refinement” (La Repubblica).