Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grand Verdi

ImageAida (Decca)
Franco Zeffirelli’s new production of Verdi’s final grand opera became a scandal at Milan’s La Scala Opera House in 2006 when tenor Roberto Alagna was booed by some in the audience early in the second performance, prompting him to walk off stage and cancel his remaining appearances. That’s not in evidence in this video of the opening night performance. Alagna, as the Egyptian commander Radames in love with the slave Aida, sings with poise and acts well. Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana admirably handles the taxing lead role, and conductor Riccardo Chailly leads the orchestra and chorus in a fervent account of Verdi’s score. Zeffirelli’s typically lavish staging doesn’t overwhelm the performers or the drama. No extras; it's unfortunate (but unsurprising) that there's no backstage intrigue showing what happened after Alagna walked off, forcing another tenor to cover for him with little preparation.

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