[Met Performance] CID:294740

New Production

Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, December 8, 1988

Debut : Sarah Reese, Rodney Griffin, Gianni Quaranta

Aida (924)
Giuseppe Verdi | Antonio Ghislanzoni
Leona Mitchell

Plácido Domingo

Fiorenza Cossotto

Sherrill Milnes

Paul Plishka

Dimitri Kavrakos

John Gilmore

Sarah Reese [Debut]

Linda Gelinas

Kimberly Graves

James Levine

Sonja Frisell

Set Designer
Gianni Quaranta [Debut]

Costume Designer
Dada Saligeri

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Rodney Griffin [Debut]

Aida received fourteen performances this season.

Production a gift of Mrs. Donald D. Harrington

Review 1:

Review of Dale Harris in the New York Post

New 'Aida" is a grand production

On Thursday evening, the Metropolitan Opera got what it has lacked for more than a decade: a production of "Aida" that puts this grandest of grand operas on a footing with such spectaculars in the repertoire as "Carmen" and "La Boheme."

Originally intended for movie-maker Franco Zeffirelli, whose budgets can run into seven figures, the project was reassigned on practical grounds to Sonja Frisell, who has come up with enough scenic lavishness to keep the audience applauding through the music, but, apparently, without bankrupting the company

No doubt, one reason for Frisell's relative frugality is that, unlike Zeffirelli, she doesn't design her own scenery and costumes. Luckily, she seems to know exactly whom to turn to in order to carry out her ideas with theatrical potency. Except for a prosaic Nile scene, Gianni Quaranta's sets summon up all the glory of Ancient Egypt as envisioned by the finest designers of Hollywood and Cinecitta. To these architectural splendors, with their emphasis - perhaps overemphasis - on gigantic sculpture, Dada Saligeri's costumes bring a welcome variety of color and texture.

One important reason for Frisell's success with the first-night audience was that she never allows Verdi's enthralling drama about the conflict of love and patriotism to distract attention from the scenic lavishness. Psychology, passion, plausibility all took second place to pictorial-ism. Given the current shortage of first-rate singers at the Met, Frisell's approach is perhaps understandable.

Of the cast, only Placido Domingo came within hailing distance of Verdi's requirements. Still, there's no doubt that in the opera's less-heroic passages, his voice rings out with thrilling richness. So does the soprano of Leona Mitchell, but she was, nevertheless, a great disappointment as Aida. Worse than her occasional lapses in matters of pitch, line and tension was her failure to phrase the music and enunciate the text with commitment, insight or poetry

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