Aida | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader

Aida Recommended Member Picks All Ages Soundboard

When: Fri., Feb. 3, 2 p.m. and Wed., Feb. 8, 2 p.m. 2012

Written late in Verdi's life and set in ancient Egypt, Aida is well-known for its lavish sets, gigantic choruses, and plentiful dance numbers—and all that grandeur serves as a backdrop for one of opera's most unrelentingly passionate title roles. In this Lyric production, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky gives a triumphant performance as an Ethiopian slave caught in a doomed love triangle. With her ravishing voice, she can cut through a substantial orchestra and chorus or sing breathtaking upper-register pianissimos that seem to float in the air—the latter were especially incredible during "O Patria Mia." As Egyptian general Radames, tenor Marcello Giordani delivers the necessary heroics, with a big Italianate sound that sometimes seems tight on high notes; mezzo-soprano Jill Grove, who plays the pharaoh's daughter Amneris, is especially compelling dramatically and vocally during her full-voiced vengeance scenes. Verdi composed Aida around the same time as his Requiem, and both feature high-voltage drama, an intense rhythmic drive, and thrilling choruses. After this week's two performances, the next are in March, at which time several cast changes go into effect; they include Hui He as Aida, Marco Berti as Radames, and Anna Smirnova as Amneris. Renato Palumbo conducts; the production runs through Sun 3/25. —Barbara Yaross $54-$239

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