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A scene from the Chisinau National Opera 2001 production of Verdi's Aida.

In Amneris' aria, with crossed Pharaonic insignia, Busuioc was as magnificent as she was terrifying; the bassoon accompanying Ghioalda's subsequent Aida aria underlined the quality of all the Chisinau wind section (the strings, perhaps overworked night after night, are less predictable : they alternate between brilliant and moodily, almost idly drab). The staging for Radames's return -- with massed wind and brass, plus ballet -- was terrific, despite some backstage noise for Aida's preceding recitative.

Melania Ghioalda as Aida and Boris Materinco as Amonasro in Chisinau National Opera's 2001 production of Verdi's Aida.

Yet nothing prepared one for the devastating appearance of Amonasro : gaunt, haggard, massive, a towering presence, whose monumental righteousness and forlorn stolen dignity swept all before it. This was Boris Materinco, one of the great voices, surely, to emerge from the debris of the former Soviet Union : a voice and stage authority to set beside Ghiaurov and the great Boris Christoff. The pizzicato violas that (as often elsewhere) encapsulate oriental -- or in this case, Ethiopian -- poignancy and tragedy were remarkably effective for his great appeal. So too was the ensuing instrumental detail : massive trombone beneath the tutti, as the chorus chimed in with the soloists; low flutes and violas -- an almost Puccinian sound -- and then attractively reedy oboe solo heralding Aida's aria; the woodwind exchanges as she plans escape; the beautifully phrased clarinet that accompanies Amneris; or the basses and cellos that feed in the unison lament -- all playing of a high order.

There was the ocasional further drawback : an element of separation between priest and orchestra (made up for by his awesome, spot-on next aria); the odd untidy string passages scattered here rather too liberally, culminating in an unforgivably weak final cadencing, as if the violin desks were already wiping their bows and packing their bags. But this was a powerful evening, and an Aida as stupendous as their Madam Butterfly was melting.

The Triumphal March : Chisinau National Opera 2001 production of Aida.


Copyright © 4 February 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK




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