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Lions and Tigers and Priestesses, Oh My! “Aida” comes to Seattle Opera.

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on July 31, 2008 at 6:00 am with No Comments »
July 31, 2008 6:00 am

Dancers in the Triumphal March of Seattle Opera’s 2008 AIDA

It’s the moment grand opera fans wait for: Verdi’s “Aida.” This romantic operatic triumph has everything in it you think of when you think of opera: crowds on stage, lavish costumes, enormous sets, even more enormous voices, and huge amounts of noise. The plot is pretty standard for grand opera (note, spoiler follows): boy meets girl (in this case, an Egyptian general meets an Ethiopian slave girl who’s part of the invading army,) boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl sing endless arias, girl reveals she’s really a princess and tricks boy into betraying his army’s plans, girl and boy are discovered by rival and both end up entombed alive as punishment.

But what really makes this opera sing (hah!) is the production values and the cast, and it seems that the Seattle Opera show has both in spades. The sets come from the San Diego opera, the costumes from the Dallas Opera.

Here’s what the King of Egypt is wearing these days:

Joseph Rawley as The King of Egypt in Seattle Opera’s 2008 AIDA. Photo: Bill Mohn

And two of his army, with Donald Byrd’s usual dramatic choreography:

Dancers Ty Cheng and Hannah Lagerway in Seattle Opera’s 2008 AIDA. Photo: Bill Mohn.

As for cast, the A list (opening night Saturday, plus August 6, 9, 13, 17 and 23) includes SO’s 2007 stunning Tosca Lisa Daltirus and Italian tenor Antonello Palombi in the lead roles and American sensation Stephanie Blythe as the rival lover, but the B cast (August 3, 8, 10, 15 and 22) is supposed to be just as good: up-and-coming Venezuelan soprano Ana Lucrecia Garcia shares the stage with Rosario La Spina.

There are close to 80 chorus members – imagine that sound, with everyone singing at once – though no elephants, as some outdoor productions have included, for that famous triumphal march.

And for those who like their opera quirky, here are some “Aida” tidbits to munch on:

– the 1871 premiere in Cairo was conducted by Giovanni Bottesini, who also happened to be a virtuoso double bass player

– it’s one of only a handful of operas that have inspired Broadway musicals: the 1998 show by Elton John and Tim Rice

– the 1953 movie version starred none other than Sophia Loren (who lip-synched, of course)

Feel free to add your own anecdotes!

Oh, and if you want tickets, visit www.seattleopera.org

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