Opera Australia is luring us back into Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre with two operas by the world’s favourite composer of grand opera. The first Verdi work is one of his most often performed, whereas the second is seldom mounted.
The introduction of some spectacular digital technology for Aida will be an additional drawcard for many opera lovers. OA promises that Italian director and choreographer Davide Livermore’s interpretation “conveys the sense of the scale, depth and magnificence demanded by this monumental opera, transporting the audience experience to a whole new level. Ten towering LED screens create an immersive theatrical experience, as ever-changing floor-to-ceiling set pieces present video design that ranges from rich symbolism to vivid landscapes. Coupled with Gianluca Falaschi’s magnificent costume designs, this production proves to be a feast for the senses.”
The cast features some of the world’s most notable singers, including American soprano Leah Crocetto, who is making her OA debut as Aida. Tenor Stefano La Colla will sing the role of Radamès, with French-Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Gabouri as Amneris. Basses Alexander Vinogradov and David Parkin will share the role of Ramfis, with baritone Michael Honeyman as Amonasro. All this, plus a cast of more than one hundred musicians, singers, dancers and actors for what looks like an extravagant production.
Based on Victor Hugo’s play Hernani, Verdi’s Ernani is among his early operas. An implausible, convoluted plot, where duty trumps personal desire, has been offered as a reason why Ernani has been comparatively neglected. Verdi’s music performed by outstanding singers, however, should more than compensate for any perceived shortcomings in that regard.
Opera Australia will present the Melbourne premiere of this epic co-production with Milan’s famous Teatro alla Scala. Acclaimed Australian singers Diego Torre and Natalie Aroyan will play Ernani and Elvira respectively, along with internationally renowned baritone Vladimir Stoyanov as Don Carlo, King of Spain. Alexander Vinogradov joins the cast as Don Ruy Gomez de Silva.
German director Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s conception of a “‘play within a play’ that enthusiastically embraces the melodrama of the story” has met with some puzzled responses during OA’s Sydney season; Melbourne audiences may well find his approach adds to the intrigue and excitement.
Aida: 6-21 May
Ernani: 13-22 May