Aida in Seville

I have always eagerly anticipated a first visit to a foreign opera house, and understandably this was the case at Seville with its several operatic associations and standing, as it does, between Carmen’s tobacco factory and the bull ring. However, Aida there proved to be a disappointment. The main problem was the old-style production by Jose Antonio Gutierrez. It took me back to opera as it was 50 years ago: ponderous realistic sets surrounding stereotyped stage movements, and a complete absence of dramatic imagination.

Under the direction of Pedro Halffter, the orchestra and chorus were fine, but the soloists, though in good voice, could not save the show. The Radames belted out his arias without subtlety; the Amneris cut a less than convincing figure on stage; and it was left to two Americans to convey some dramatic insights and vocally interpretive nuances: Tamara Wilson as Aida (notwithstanding a blackened face and a ridiculous costume) and Mark Doss as Amonasro.