Artistic Director Jonathan Pell at the Arena di Verona

by Megan Meister

The crowd arriving for the performance at the Arena di Verona.

Every opera lover should attend a performance of AIDA once in their lifetime at the Arena di Verona.

The sheer spectacle is something out of an old Cecil B. DeMille epic, and if it wasn’t a cast of thousands then it was at least a cast of many hundreds!  Granted there weren’t elephants, but there were horses in the triumphal scene that galloped across the stage.  The basic unit set was convincingly reconfigured for each act, and if I had any complaint about the evening it was that there were three lengthy intermissions which added over an hour to the shows running time.  Considering that the performance doesn’t start until 9:15 p.m., it makes for a very long evening!

The acoustic in the open air Roman amphitheatre is legendary, and the orchestra and augmented chorus (I gave up counting, but there had to be more than one hundred) sounded terrific.

Extremely well conducted by Daniel Oren (who conducted AIDA in Dallas in the early 90′s) and wonderfully sung by an international cast headed up by Lucrecia Garcia, Jorge de Leon  and Dolora Zajick, it made for a first rate musical evening and not just the bloated spectacle that I had feared it might be.

The triumphal scene from AIDA at the Arena di Verona July 19,  2012

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