Opera Australia’s new production of Aida is nothing short of ground breaking. Ten massive moveable LED screens serve as a backdrop for this mesmerising production onto which a dazzling display of gold and blue art deco Egyptian iconography is projected complete with pyramids and tombs, hieroglyphs and swirling serpents. The art deco motif of the 1920s is carried through in costumes and dance sequences throughout the production.
Visitors to the Sydney Opera House may have grown blasé at the sight of the building’s sails lit up by dazzling laser light displays, but they have never seen anything like this inside the house. Set in the age of the ancient pharaohs almost 3000 years ago, Verdi’s epic 19thcentury opera has been transported into the 21stcentury. The story centres on a tragic love triangle between Aida, an Ethiopian princess, enslaved in the court of her Egyptian nemesis Amneris and Radamés, who has been chosen to lead the Egyptians to battle against the Ethiopian troops.
Conducted by Andrea Battistoni, Verdi’s music soars from the orchestra pit and envelopes the Joan Sutherland theatre. The performances on the stage are as big and bold as the light display behind the performers. American Soprano Amber Wagner is formidable as the tragically enslaved Aida. Russian soprano Elena Gabouri is equally as commanding as the Egyptian princess Amneris. And Italian tenor Ricardo Massi is an excellent counter balance to these two strong female leads. While traditional opera goers may be surprised to see LED screen projections during one of Verdi’s most famous operas, there is little doubt they can expect to see many more productions using similar technologies in years to come.
Until Aug 31. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point. $46-$373_b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
Reviewed by Lawrence Gibbons