Monday, March 8, 2010

REVIEW: AIDA at The MET Opera HD Live

I was more interested in the technology and the venue, rather than the opera itself. When I found out about the broadcasts in US cinemas, I wrote a letter to the MET begging them to bring it to Hong Kong and I got my wish.

I went to the 12nn screening on 7th of March at the Wellcome Theatre at Bethanie Campus of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. The venue was very pleasant with ample foyer for people to rest and eat. As for the theatre, I was kind of expecting a bigger screen, but was grateful that it was not because it kept the fast panning of the cameras to a limited range. Any bigger screen would have induced motion sickness! The sound was a bit disappointing, as it sounded a wee dampened.

The screening started with Renee Fleming introducing the opera and the back stage insights of the MET. Now this is for me the best thing about these screenings. In between acts, Renee got to interviews the singers of the opera, talked about the set change, chatted with the extras and also interviewed singers of the upcoming opera. The interviews were very entertaining especially the part when Renee was interviewing Dolora Zajick (Amneris). Dolora's response to Renee's questions were so peculiar that I was not so sure whether Dolora was either clueless or was being sarcastic. In any case, the audience loved it and found the whole sequence hilarious!

I suppose I do need to talk about the opera itself, right? Overall, it was of MET standard. The production was grand and the orchestra played sympathetically. All the performers were world-class. Violeta Urmana played Aida, she sang and look beautifully. The last time I saw her was in the role of Princess Eboli in Don Carlos in Munich. Her rich mezzo voice truly made an impression. For this soprano role, the rich mezzo was still there, but as the voice climbed up the scale, it bloomed into a dramatic voice if not as round as I want it to be. Playing Radames was Johan Botha who sang with great fluid voice but lack the brightness in tone. To demand acting from him would be too much. Dolora Zajick was cruising fine until the last act when she unleashed a thrilling performance of great drama. Her voice was big yet steady that worked effectively in communicating great anguish.
All in all, I am happy that MET Opera HD Live has arrived in Hong Kong and I can't wait to see Les Contes d'Hoffmann. For more information check out:

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