Seeing Ellen Kent’s Verdi production reminded me of the first time I saw opera in a provincial Italian theatre nearly 50 years ago – raw, unsophisticated but dangerously stirring the blood.
Aida was here performed by the Chisinau National Opera and National Philharmonic Orchestra of Moldova, with a cast who know plenty about singing but whose acting is largely of the ‘by numbers’ variety.
The vocal passion matched the spectacle of the famous Triumphal March, including some dazzling fire-spinning, and the orchestral playing under Nicolae Dohotaru was at its best when the dramatic stakes were highest – particularly from blazing horns.
At heart, Aida is a simple story of a love triangle across warring nations, with two women battling for the heart of a general (shame about Igor Macarenco’s unflatteringly short tunic).
Ecaterina Danu sang with purity and appealing passion in the title role and Zariu Vardanean demonstrated a powerful chest-voice as her rival, Amneris.