Aida - Chisinau Opera

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Theatre Royal

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> Norwich Theatre Royal

Heavenly Aida! The Chisinau Opera from Moldova, a little republic between Romania and Ukraine, presents Verdi's Egyptian tale of love and war with a directness that carries away every inhibition. Some quiet moments in the overture are only the prelude for the first trumpet calls, and from then on the emotions like the music come gushing out. It is all a bit stiff by modern British standards, but you pay a price for the heroic style.

Staging with a good deal of intriguing archaeological detail plays its part. It looks very solid.

Ritual is well worked too, with the right air of reverence in the serried ranks of the deep-voice chorus and the solemn gestures of the priest.

A scene for the ladies of the court and the Central School Dancers provides first an oasis of calm, then an episode of personal rivalries before the public celebrations of victory. This is a mammoth spectacular, with melody elevating the mood.

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With the priestess intoning her eerie chant, the drama ends in tragedy as religion and power crush human life without destroying the power of love.

The orchestra under Nicolae Dohotaru wrings every drop of colour from the score and the singers all seize their opportunities. Petru Racovita is outstanding as the Ethopian King, Akhmed Agadi is a stirring tenor, and Natalia Margarit has just the right combination of strength and frailty as Aida. The directors are Nick Hogarth and Mihai Timofti.

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