Above: Latonia Moore
Tuesday November 22nd, 2016 - It's an odd feeling to be dreading a night at the opera because of the hyper-extended intermissions. But so many performances at The Met in recent seasons have suffered from a draining of dramatic and musical impetus as intermissions stretch beyond the 30-minute mark that it really is a concern of mine.
However, I did want to hear at least some of Latonia Moore's Aida tonight. Latonia was a finalist in the Met Auditions in 2000, the same year my late friend Makiko Narumi participated. I met Latonia a couple of times at patrons events, loved her voice, and her personality. Up to tonight, she had sung a single Aida and a single Butterfly at The Met, whilst having an extensive career elsewhere.
I knew going in that I would not be able to endure two intermissions; my plan was to leave after the Triumphal Scene. Aside from Ms. Moore, the cast was nearly identical to the one I heard earlier this month.
Marco Armiliato and the Met musicians again gave a very atmospheric rendering of the prelude. Marco Berti as Radames was not having a good evening. At the earlier performance, he had been quite impressive in terms of sheer lung-power and some very nice softer singing in the Tomb Scene. Tonight's "Celeste Aida" was choppily phrased and beset by pitch problems. There was only a trickle of applause after this famous aria. Ekaterina Gubanova, despite some attractive passages ("Vieni, o diletta... appressati" in particular) again seemed slightly under-powered.
With Latonia Moore's entrance, things perked up. Her voice is warm, with a sensuous tinge to it, and it carries well in the big house. She sang with passion and good sense of line, leaning on but not over-working the chest voice. Her "Ritorna vincitor" was vivid both in terms of sound and dramatic inflection, and she sang quite gorgeously in her plaintive "Numi pieta..." Ms. Moore won a hearty round of applause and bravas from the sizeable audience. My only slight concern was that the very highest notes showed a trace of discomfort; the high-B in the trio was not sustained the full count, nor did she linger on the upper notes of the aria. But overall, she gave some extremely satisfying singing.
I pulled out my copy of Gore Vidal's KALKI and read for about 15 minutes; and then I thought: "Why am I reading a novel at the opera? Shouldn't the unfolding of a great score like AIDA sustain me thru the evening? Why is this intermission going to last another 20 minutes?" I packed up and left.