Billed, enticingly, as containing “amazing fire effects”, audiences of producer/director Ellen Kent’s Aida will have been disappointed. The display, accompanying the triumphal march, was limited to one almighty burst from 10 flame-throwers and a routine from a flame juggler whose single contribution cannot have lasted more than a minute.
Featuring the National Opera and Philharmonic of Moldova, positives were sadly scarce in this traditional staging of Verdi’s opera of love and jealousy in ancient Egypt.
Resplendent in skirt and sandals, Igor Macarenco’s tenor improved through the evening, but he was hopelessly lacking in charisma as the hero Radamès. As was Eugen Ganea’s King of Egypt, appearing petrified and as rigid as the stone of his imaginary surroundings.
Conductor Nicolae Dohotaru delivered a pedestrian reading of Verdi’s score and the orchestra’s sound was consistently anaemic, victim perhaps to the company’s gruelling touring schedule.
Ecaterina Danu gave a spirited performance as the princess-turned-slave Aida, but one that would have benefited from greater vocal subtlety. As Ramfis and Amonasro, the rich voices of Valeriu Cojocaru and Iurie Gisca were good additions, but it was Zarui Vardanean’s silky mezzo that impressed as Aida’s bitter rival Amneris.