Aida, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Chisinau National Opera from Moldova enters into the spirit of Verdi's pulsating music drama with unapologetic gusto.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The Chisinau National Opera from Moldova enters into the spirit of Verdi's pulsating music drama with unapologetic gusto. Love, pride and passion meet in a spectacle that develops an eternal but timely theme: military glory – whether in defeat or victory – is always paid for in personal tragedy.

The gods, though repeatedly invoked, do not intervene in the face of human wilfulness.

From the ringing tones of Alexey Repchinsky as the Egyptian Prince as he hails heavenly Aida to the moment when the priestesses ritually intone the doom of the lovers, melody dominates, with the brilliance of brass and the shimmer of violin tone always available to underscore exultation or despair.

Spectacle plays its part too. A golden tiara, a jewelled necklace, sparkling bangles set off against a flowing white cloak – and that was the hero's costume – make their point.

The pharaoh and the resonant High Priest were no less splendid against a backcloth of pyramids and gigantic statues.

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The Crown Princess contrasted in magnificence to her lowly slave, played by Natalia Margarit. In a cast that is sometimes wooden, seeming only to go through the motions of acting, Viorel Zgardan, as the Ethiopian King, is outstanding both in stage presence and vocal prowess. The glint in his eyes speaks volumes.

The ballet adds a dimension with some grace and imagination, helped by the children from Stagecoach Theatre Arts.

The lighting is sometimes sadly out of focus, but perhaps that is to be expected on the first night in a new venue.

t Aida continues at the Theatre Royal until September 18.Box office: 01603 630000.

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