Aida comes to San Diego Civic Theater


Credit via San Diego Union Tribute

Though centuries old, Aida is a beautifully composed opera, with an emotional and stirring plot about two lovers caught between their loyalty for each other, and for their country. Written by Auguste Mariette and composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Aida is a masterpiece of the ages and conveys beauty and passion as one of the greatest operas written. 

Aida tells the story of an Ethiopian princess, Aida, and Egyptian soldier, Radames, who are deeply in love with each other. However, they can not express their feelings due to the rivalry between their already warring countries. Amneris, an Egyptian princess, also shares feelings for the soldier and suspects that Adia loves him as well. When the time comes to fight the Ethiopians, Radames is announced general and hopes to win so that he may wed Aida and take her back to her homeland. 

While gone, Amneris hopes to find Aida’s true feelings towards Radames and deceives her, telling Aida that Radames perished in battle. Seeing the extent Aida’s grief, Amneris’ suspicions are confirmed and her jealousy rages against her slave. When the battle is finished, Radames returns triumphant from defeating the Ethiopians. And to Aida’s shock, has her father, the Ethiopian King, as one of the captives. 

Knowing of Aida’s love for Radames, her father demands her to make him expose his army’s plans in order to gain victory for Ethiopia. Aida eventually agrees and Radames tells her, but Amneris heard all and the High Priest of Egypt condemns Radames to death for treason. While being buried alive, Radames hopes that his love has found her homeland, but is surprised when she is in the tomb with him. As they sing a farewell to earth, Amneris prays for peace above the tomb. 

The premiere of Aida at the San Diego Civic Theatre was a theatrical production, with most of the background missing, due to the presence of the symphony. The chorus, as well, was not decorated in Egyptian garments, but instead, were in all black. The focus of this production was mainly concentrated on the music, including the symphony and opera singers. 

The actors did a phenomenal job of depicting the various emotions throughout the play. Tenor Carl Tanner, who played the general Radames, did beautifully in depicting his love for Aida, played by Soprano Michelle Bradley. The passion in the music, as well as the action, made the audience feel the strong emotions in their proclamations of love. 

Amneris, played by Mezzo-Soprano Olesya Petrova, portrayed the princess of Egypt as well as also being deeply in love with Radames. Olesya Petrova was able to show gentleness in her love as well as viciousness in her jealousy of her slave, Aida. Simon Lim, The high priest Ramfis, and the King of Egypt, Mikhail Svetlov, played powerful roles with extremely powerful voices. With their low, bass voices, their characters emitted power and grandeur as leaders of Egypt. 

Aida’s father, King of Ethiopia, also was a vital character to the plot. Baritone Nelson Martinez, though a smaller role in the play, was essential in a powerful scene with Aida, when convincing her to have Radames expose his armies’ secrets. The duet with Aida and Amonasro (King of Egypt) depicted a  powerful scene as he renounced Aida as his daughter unless she deceived her lover. 

All in all, the San Diego Civic Theatre’s production of Aida was a splendid show of the music and opera singing, which showed the actors being able to convey a wide range of vocals as well as emotions. The production was a huge success and as the rest of the productions are underway if you’re lucky enough to get some seats for the opera, Aida is sure to astound and is filled with talented voices, actors, and symphony.