Even after a collection of dispiriting lockdown postponements, the pandemic continued to play havoc with Pure Concord Musical Occasions’ Studying/Live performance efficiency of After Aida. Musical Director Adrian Tamburini relinquished the piano stool to interchange a COVID-stricken bass-baritone Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, whereas Jane Matheson took Tamburini’s place on the piano at 48 hours discover. This was a sign of simply how decided Director/Producer David Meadows, Tamburini and different solid members had been to have the venture go forward.
And there’s no doubt that Julian Mitchell’s 1985 “play-with-music” is a worthwhile venture that deserves critical consideration from different firms capable of mount a full scale manufacturing with orchestra. Commissioned by Brian McMaster, managing director of the Welsh Nationwide Opera, for firm excursions to smaller theatres, it permits a versatile variety of Verdi “hits” to be included. On this manufacturing they had been sung in English – a lower than splendid language for Italian opera, however probably a clever selection when it comes to accessibility. Some compromise must be thought of, nonetheless, for key repeated phrases. Otello’s plea for a closing kiss – “un bacio” – after killing Desdemona actually sounds a lot better within the authentic.
After Aida begins with the ultimate trio from Aida, on this case sung by soprano Michelle Cook dinner, tenor Michael Lapina and mezzo-soprano Sarah Sweeting. That is the cue for inspecting the next silence. Why by 1879 has the nice Italian composer not written an opera for nearly a decade after Aida? Mitchell has Verdi’s first phrases suggesting a insecurity as he rails in opposition to critics and, later, singers, audiences and theatre practices. Wagner is in favour and Verdi appears to have had his day. His buddy, conductor Franco Faccio (Andrew Cullimore) and Giulio Ricordi (Paolo Bartolomei), the son of his writer, attempt to drag Verdi away from his farming pursuits and collaborate with Arrigo Boito (Adam T Perkins) as librettist in a brand new opera. Regardless of initially contemplating it a hopeless process, Verdi’s second spouse, the previous celebrated bel canto soprano Giuseppina Strepponi (Francesca Waters) joins them.
Tref Gare made a convincing irascible, self-doubting, grudge-bearing Verdi, energetic in his resistance to working with any individual who had insulted him. Mitchell has offered him with some witty dialogue, which he dealt with with straightforward aplomb. Perkins’ Boito was a ball of power – petulant, excited, theatrical – consistent with the dialogue – and, like Verdi, afraid that he was less than the duty. Though this was a studying, Perkins appeared to have memorised all his traces and was capable of throw a spectacular tantrum. Waters was terrific as Strepponi – her no-nonsense model of practicality an amazing foil to the male histrionics. Clear diction and good voice projection lent additional energy to her characterisation.
Arias, duets, trios and quartets had been chosen from varied operas within the first half and had been drawn from Otello after interval. Regardless of taking up the bass-baritone roles at quick discover, Tamburini all the time sounded assured and was in wonderful voice. Sweetman made a advantageous contribution to the ensembles vocally and dramatically and extra singing from her would have been welcome. Michelle Cook dinner displayed nice dedication to the roles she undertook, notably in Woman Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene, the place robust decrease notes impressed. There isn’t a doubt that Michael Lapina was given essentially the most formidable process within the variety of taxing objects he sang. He has a really nice tenor and sounded more and more full-voiced and safe because the night progressed.
Boito is just not precisely a family identify and it’s a unusual piece of synchronicity that After Aida occurs to coincide with two of Opera Australia’s present Melbourne productions: Verdi’s La Traviata and Boito’s Mefistofele, with an excerpt giving us a bit of pattern of the latter.
Meadows, Tamburini and solid are to be congratulated on their persistence in bringing this entertaining and illuminating venture to fruition, and for demonstrating that it’s effectively value taking to the following stage.
Heather Leviston reviewed Pure Concord Musical Occasions’ manufacturing of “After Aida”, carried out at Athenæum 2 on March 20, 2022.