4 March 2004 | hasko
Balance between music and pageant
This version of Verdi's Aida was performed on stage, and was never meant to be a movie, actually I don't think a full movie version of this opera was ever produced. But a stage production and a movie are different in many ways. Things that one can get away with in a stage production will show up clearly in a movie, for the camera will bring the spectator much closer to the set. There is nothing wrong with the music in this production, but the pageant is somewhat strange. This story was meant to be set in Ancient Egypt, but Radames looks more like a Viking warlord, and the priests look as if they have escaped from the temple in Jerusalem. I have a long standing problem with Italian costume designers, and this production has not improved matters, the Metropolitan version of Aida was much better in this respect.
One has to consider why one wants to watch opera, personally I like an even mix, and I am prepared to sacrifice some of the quality of the music in order to get a better pageant. Pavarotti is unequalled as a tenor, but as an actor, impersonating a tombstone is about as good as it gets. And as soon as Dimitrova appears on stage, one will immediately understand why Radames tries to flee into the arms of Aida. Finally, why those poor slaves had to drag those statues around all the time, and how g-string little boys fitted in, I haven't figured out yet. This version is probably ideal for flamboyant people. Personally I like a more historically accurate approach.