Powerful Aida is the Icing On The Cake - Sunday Business Post Review

Monday, 10 December, 2018
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Powerful Aida is the icing on INO's cake

This enthralling production of Aida was the icing on the cake for Irish National Opera in its first term of production. It closed INO's inaugural agenda with a huge wallop that never ceased to enthral. This is despite the fact that its updating to a more recent type of Middle Eastern conflict sometimes seemed overstated with massive visuals of desert wars dominating the stage action, which is rather static, almost opera seria in style.

In recent time, Aida has been opera's equivalent of a Hollywood biblical blockbuster of the Charlton Heston kind, but in reality Verdi's visual spectacle - much loved by summertime tourists to Italian amphitheatres - is secondary to a score that is a technical marvel with orchestration that never wavers in its precise balance. This was splendidly achieved by the RTÉ CO under conductor Fergus Shiel. The famous Triumphal March, with its blast of trumpets, was truly memorable as was the overall contribution by a massive chorus that seemed to contain every young emerging Irish star in its ranks - including 18 basses.

However, the pulsating core of Michael Barker - Caven's production was the sumptuous singing performances of Orla Boylan, as the slave girl Aida, and Imelda Drumm as Amneris, the king's daughter who secretly desires the warrior Radames for herself. Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones impressed too.

The final entombment scene unfortunately lost impact by not being set centre stage, but overall this was a hugely satisfying production, and one that augured well for the future of large-scale opera in Ireland.


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Written by Dick O'Riordan, Sunday Business Post, Sunday 9th December