Sunday, 4 October 2015

Giuseppe Verdi, Aida - Bayerische Staatsoper München

Performance 1st October 

With a cast like at that evening you certainly look forward to your visit of the opera with huge expectations: Krassimira Stoyanova in the title role and Jonas Kaufmann doing his stage debut as Radamès (if you are not considering the concertante performance in Rome last February for the Warner recording that came out recently) in one of the most popular Verdi operas. But let us start with the less pleasing aspects of that overall very successful evening.
Christof Nels production does not come up with a very convincing concept and the staging of the singers stays quite static over the whole performance. Unfortunately Jens Kilians weak scenery can not really enhance the general visual impression of the production, because there is only a very simplified edged and plain building on the stage that does not allow any associations to develop. The fact that this draft of a building is spinning during almost the whole opera does not make it more creative.
Anyway, the casting of the singers could compensate the lame staging concept easily. Although Christophoros Stamboglis still seemed a little bit ailing (he was subbed by Ain Anger at the previous performance and also will be subbed by him for the last two performances in this month), he still did a respectable job as the harsh priest Ramfis who shows absolutely no mercy for the Ethiopian prisoners of war or Radamès. Franco Vassallo convinced as the Ethiopian king Amonasro and with his powerful baritone voice he radiated such an authority that Aida's submitting to her father’s demand in the third act seemed very comprehensible.
Anna Smirnova's voice sounded kind of faint during Amneris’ less emotional parts but apart from that she has a strong voice that found its complete expression during her attacks of jealousy and her hysteric collapse when Radamès signs his own death warrant by not justifying himself after his act of treason. Unlike Krassimira Stoyanova who could draw on almost unlimited resources of colours by what she managed to reveal the inner conflict between her patriotism and the love to her father on the one hand and the passionate attraction towards Radamès on the other hand. While singing at all volumes with such a lightness, she exhaled a breathtaking subtle beauty especially during her piano parts.
Who could keep pace better with such a superb cast title role than splendid Jonas Kaufmann? Although Dan Ettinger's conducting seemed a bit undifferentiated and too loud at some parts so the singers had their difficulties to prevail over the orchestra and Kaufmann did not use the full power of his voice before the intermission, the tenor did absolutely not spare himself during the last two acts. The finale of the third act and particularly the last line of it „Sacerdote, io resto a te“ was pure dramatic intensity and the duet at the end of the opera between Stoyanova and Kaufmann proved that those two wonderful voices fit together perfectly.
 For that musical magnificent performance with a great singer ensemble but one limitation of a not always perfectly balanced orchestra and a quite weak staging I would still give 8 stars.
reviewed by Lukas Leipfinger

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