Above: the Temple Scene from the Metropolitan Opera's production of AIDA; a Marty Sohl/Met Opera photo
Friday January 2nd, 2015 - One of the larger audiences I've seen at The Met in recent seasons. The crowd seemed to be enjoying this 'grand olde opera' production, though of course New York audiences have sometimes been derided for our lack of sophistication and our lagging behind Europe in the appreciation of trendier settings. But then, taste is a matter of taste.
There's not really a lot to say about the performance tonight. In her Met debut, soprano Marjorie Owens did quite well and the crowd was definitely supportive. She skirted all the traps laid by the composer, managing the high-C in "O patria mia" successfully and showing a vocal involvement in the drama. For me, her constantly conspicuous vibrato was a deterrent.
Carl Tanner's Radames seemed an improvement over Marcello Giordani's performance earlier in the week, mainly in that Tanner's voice 'speaks' in the lower and lower-middle ranges where Giordani has nothing to give. Tanner muscled his way thru the music, popping out some ensemble-piercing B-flats in the Triumphal Scene ensemble. But the lyrical passages of the Nile Scene duet seemed to tax his reserves and he seemed to be tiring by the end of the act, though he managed to pull off "...io resto a te!" Since I left at that point, I don't know how he fared in the final two scenes.
At first I thought Violeta Urmana (Amneris) seemed in better voice than earlier in the week, but soon the wobble and sense of effort crept in. After a while her singing became annoying. So sad that she dallied in the soprano rep too long.
It was George Gagnidze as Amonasro who gave the evening's most impressive performance: strongly sung and with vivid dramatic accents, the baritone reached the pinnacle with a spectacularly sustained "...dei Faraoni tu sei la schiava!" In the olde days, he probably would have received a round of applause here.
Dmitry Belosselskiy was again a sturdy Ramfis, and Soloman Howard - repeating his role as the King - showed greater vocal authority than on Monday night and was really impressive.
Jennifer Check, who sang the offstage voice of the High Priestess, will soon be center-stage at Avery Fisher Hall when on March 9th, 2015 she appears there is a performance of the Defiant Requiem. Details here.