AÏDA – Spectacular Opening Night At San Francisco Opera

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera’s opening production of Verdi’s AÏDA is a complete success. In a season of incredible economic challenge, General Manager David Gockley has fulfilled his promise to The City that SF Opera would continue to attract world class artists and present them in the highest quality productions possible. Directed by Jo Davies, this co-production with Houston Grand Opera and English National Opera is an excellent example of how shared responsibility encourages the mounting of complex and often prohibitive masterworks. Production designer Zandra Rhodes and Christopher Maravich, lighting designer, have created a look for AÏDA that fulfills the expected grandeur and the luxurious pomp and circumstance associated with the grandest show of shows. Rhodes’ costumes are appropriately extravagant and the deceptively simple set designs are fabulously provocative. The ancient temples and palaces of Memphis and Thebes are once again ablaze with color. And – yes! – the “Triumphal March” and entrance of Egypt’s heroic general, “Radames” (sung by tenor Marcello Giordani) includes the obligatory Elephant – a major companion/hurdle for any AÏDA and a stubborn commodity against which every production is measured. This Egyptian Jumbo – ala the puppetry of Julie Taymor – is a splendid and fashionable theatrical device. The pachyderm is heavenly blue, requiring a team of muscled warriors to keep its voluminous gossamer and gilded ears spread wide, its tusks forward and erect, and the (adorable) head and trunk in rhythmic sync. And no giant scooper aftermath.

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MARCELLO GIORDANI – as Radames, Commander of the Egyptian Army. Triumphal March.
Photo, Cory Weaver

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MICAELA CAROSI – as Aïda, slave to Amneris. Photo, Cory Weaver

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DOLORA ZAJICK – as Amneris, daughter of Pharaoh.
Photo, Cory Weaver

AÏDA is all about powerhouse singing and theatrical gimmicks. There’s just enough plot to hang the arias together. Throughout the flow of its three Acts are signature arias for every voice type – from bass to soprano. It’s a true showcase for big guns voices – particularly, those that can register out to the 3,146 viewers at the War Memorial. AÏDA is a Special Occasion opera, befitting a Season Opener or (as it was once rumored) to honor the opening of the Suez Canal. It’s a fashion and skin parade and there oughta be more of those. The Temple music is mystical and deeply compelling. The gods are real. And best of all – you get on the wrong side of the Pharaoh’s daughter, especially if you are that gorgeous slave she keeps around – Aïda, daughter of the King of Ethiopia, the one who may be throwing herself at Commander Radames, the Pharaoh’s daughter’s One&Only – then you and your traitor tenor boyfriend will find your sorry selves buried alive. Curtains. It’s Total Theatre. Click here to order tickets on-line: AÏDA

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Dolora Zajick (Amneris), Micaela Carosi (Aida) and Marcello Giordani (Radames)
Photo, Cory Weaver

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Marcello Giordani (Radames) and Hao Jiang Tian (Ramfis)
Photo, Cory Weaver

An amazing cast has been assembled for the opening of SF Opera’s 2010 Season. Under the baton of Maestro Nicola Luisotti and guidance of Chorus Director Ian Robertson, this production of AÏDA floats to a high Verdian ideal. With multiple cameras capturing close-ups and every angle of the stage, AÏDA will likewise prove to be the perfect choice for the annual simulcast at AT&T Ballpark, scheduled for Friday, September 24th. The production will be broadcast live in high definition (HD), from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to the 103-feet wide scoreboard over the outfield of AT&T Park. AÏDA thrives on more and more spectacle. Add it’s FREE!
Click here for more information: Opera At The Ballpark

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Photo, Tristram Kenton

EDITOR’S NOTE: AÏDA is made possible, in part, by Opening Weekend Grand Sponsor Diane B. Wilsey. Thank you, Dede.

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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