I had just seen La Boheme and enjoyed it a lot. I jumped at the opportunity to see Ellen Kent: Verdi’s Aida at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. I think like a lot of people, I could probably recognise a few bars of Aida, but that’s where my knowledge of Aida ends.
You can get the synopsis easily online and as such, I will not go there. I was told that Aida is a particularly long opera but after having just seen La Boheme and enjoying it, I steeled myself and hoped that I would enjoy Aida just as much. However, I did not think it was as daunting as I was made to believe. The overview online stated: “Starring the French soprano Olga Perrier and the International soprano Alyona Kistenyova as Aida and Liza Kadelnik, the celebrated mezzo-soprano from the Romanian National Opera, as Amneris.”
The stage at the New Victoria is not the biggest but the opera was well staged and quite impressive; especially when a live horse was thrown into the colourful mix. I suspect that being a touring company, they used a few locals for some of the minor parts. The children especially were amusing when one of them just could not get herself in sync with the rest of the other dancers. It was amusing to watch and I was not disappointed regardless. The singing was very good. The story… well, it is Verdi’s Aida.
The evening was rather enjoyable in spite of the lady sat next to me who was addicted to her mobile phone; texting intermittently through the night. I can only believe it was a family emergency and she could not decide which was more important– to be beside her ailing loved one or missing Aida. Pleasure or pain? Hmmm… Tough choice.
For this show, I was seated in the Royal Circle, the view was completely unobstructed. It was easy to read the subtitles provided which made the opera very easy to follow and enjoy. From the Royal Circle, I did not feel I needed binoculars. It would appear that you can rent them for a pound (£1). I saw a few on the backs of some of the seats. I can’t attest to the quality.
What else can be said other than if you have never tried live opera, give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised. It is not just fat men and women screeching their lungs out. I was rather amazed at the quality of sound these men and women can produce.