Theatre Review: Aida

There is a lot to love about David McVicar’s production of AIDA at the Royal Opera House - not least Liudmyla Monastyrska who stepped in to perform the title role at just two days notice.

WHILE Aida is one of Verdi’s best known operas it can be a challenging work to stage.

Fortunately David McVicar, who wowed audiences last year with his stunning revival of Rigoletto, pulls no punches with this production, itself a revival of McVicar’s 2010 Aida debut.

Set in ancient Egypt, Aida tells the tale of Ramades, a brave warrior loved by both Amneris, daughter of the pharaoh, and Aida, a slave-girl from neighbouring Ethiopia.

Filled with grand ancient rituals, bloodthirsty sacrifices and lengthy battle scenes, Aida can be quite slow at times, particularly when compared to Verdi’s other popular pieces. Act one takes a while to warm up but it’s worth persevering for some wonderfully triumphant choral moments in act two. The soaring arias and moving duets of act three set things up nicely before the final act’s tragic conclusion.

There is a lot to love about this production. The singing is strong across the board and at times the music is truly magnificent.

Most deserving of a mention is Liudmyla Monastyrska, who stepped in at two days notice to take the title role. She is already scheduled to make her house debut later this spring but her earlier than expected debut did nothing to diminish her considerable talent.

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Roberto Alagne shines as Ramades while Michael Volle brings a beautiful lyrical depth to the role of Aida’s father.

Not to be missed for Verdi lovers.

* Showing at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, WC2, until Friday, April 15.