Five million people across the world have seen an Ellen Kent opera – this comes as no surprise after seeing her production of Aida in Liverpool.
Ellen is noted for lavish sets and spectacular productions and Aida is no exception although the special features of this opera, the ‘amazing fire effect’ followed by a fire spinner, was perhaps not the most spectacular thing I’ve seen on stage.
Her use of live animals in other operas has been much more impressive
Verdi intended Aida to be his last opera and, fittingly, it ends in death. However, Verdi went on to live another 30 years and completed two more operas.
Aida is a love story. Egypt and Ethiopia are at war and Aida, a princess of Ethiopia is captured by Egypt warriors and enslaved. Radames, Egypt’s war hero, falls in love with her but there are tragic consequences .His prize for winning the war is the hand of the Egyptian king’s daughter, but he chooses Aida – leading to their joint death entombed in the Temple of Vulcan.
Elena Dee gave an impressive performance, both visually and vocally, as Aida, while Radames Sorin Lupu played his part well as Radames – although he did not strike me as a handsome warrior.
Petru Racovita was commanding as King of Ethiopia, Amonasro, and Nadejda Stoianova sang her part well as the glamorous, but rejected, Egyptian princess, Amneris.
Ellen Kent recruits members from local theatre schools for some scenes.
For this venue she chose students and dancers from the Liverpool Stagecoach Theatre Arts and Northern Ballet School, and it is to her credit that she tries to use as many of them as possible.
I enjoyed a drink with Ellen at the interval and she told me it was of no consequence if the children didn’t get it quite right.
“It is more important they enjoy the experience as it helps give them an introduction to the world of theatre,” she said.
Opera is not to everyone’s taste and understanding but this Aida was easy to follow, thanks to the passion of the acting and, if you floundered, the English subtitles on a screen above the stage helped.
Altogether, an outstanding evening with excellent performances by a cast of mainly European actors from her regular company, the Chisinau National Opera with National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nicolae Dohotaru.