Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events

Aida in Pisa


di Giuseppe Verdi

In Pisa, Italy at Teatro Verdi, 2016 January 30th

Review by Fabio Bardelli, Photos Massimo D’Amato and Teatro Verdi in Pisa.

Aida in Zeffirellis staging in Pisa. CASOLLA, photo: Massimo d'Amato

Aida in Zeffirellis staging in Pisa. Giovanna CASOLLA as Amneris, photo: Massimo d’Amato

PISA/ITALY: The historic staging of Aida created by director Franco Zeffirelli for the small Busseto theater in 2001 to celebrate the centenary of Verdi’s death arrives now at Teatro Verdi in Pisa, although adapted to the larger stage by Stefano Trespidi. This “miniature Aida”, that we already saw in theaters smaller than this one, does not seem to have lost many characteristics of Zeffirelli’s initial interesting  ideas, even if some but not too much differences must be noticed.

Aida in Pisa, BOLOGNA, D'ANNUNZIO LOMBARDI photo. Massimo d'Amato

Aida in Pisa, BOLOGNA, D’ANNUNZIO LOMBARDI photo. Massimo d’Amato

The name of Franco Zeffirelli is often associated to “colossal” stages and sometimes even characterized by a bit controversial taste. On the contrary in this production the Florentine director, also author of beutiful scenes while splendid costumes are by Anna Anni, imagines and builds up Egypt by painted back-cloaths mixed to some constructed elements in a very interesting way so to create an authentich “theater fascination”.

Aida, Triumphal choice,  ensemble 1st act, photo Teatro di Pisa.

Aida, Triumphal choire, ensemble 1st act, photo Teatro di Pisa.

Teatro Verdi in Pisa isn’t certainly a small theater, it is a medium-sized one where may be suited rather wide productions and more intimate, without being distorted: only a small criticism for the scene of Amneris’ apartment, beautiful and striking with a panel with the animals as a backdrop, but that was a bit as “drowned” in the larger stage.

Aida,  2nd act 1st scene, photo: Teatro di Pisa

Aida, 2nd act 1st scene, photo: Teatro di Pisa

The characters’ definition seems to be rather well extolled by Mr Trespidi, overall Zeffirelli “intimate” connotation of this admirable opera is still existing. Aida is in fact an intimate and static opera and not a work of triumphs, on the contrary of characters, conflicts, psychologies and feelings.

 Aida, CAIMI, D'ANNUNZIO LOMBARDI, photo. Massimo d'Amato

Aida, CAIMI, D’ANNUNZIO LOMBARDI, photo. Massimo d’Amato

Director Zeffirelli, making a virtue of necessity because of the smallness of Busseto’s theater, in this production doesn’t show the Triumph scene as we can usually see, but seems to continue his idea to show Aida as an intimate opera. So we see only a crowd of people showing the shoulders to the audience and behind it there is the wagons triumphal scene that the viewer has to glimpse and almost to imagine. At their shoulders and well seen by the audience, remote from all the rest of the scene, there are the characters whose singing lines are so extolled delineating their psychologies and intimate conflicts.

Many others are the particularities that the director derives directly from the libretto and particularly from Verdi’s music. As much impressing are (even if in Aida aren’t certainly new ideas, but here seem particularly refined) Egyptian Art learned quotations in costumes, disposal of the singers and in scenic props, wonderfully made.

Aida, pi ensemble 2act 2nd scene Photo: Teatro di Pisa

Aida, pi ensemble 2act 2nd scene Photo: Teatro di Pisa

Is surely curious to start a review of Aida’s vocal cast beginning from the character of Amneris, but we are obliged to do because of the presence of a veteran as Giovanna Casolla and not for an usual “career hommage”. The Neapolitan singer (her debut was in 1977) is still overmatching young singers. She inserted in her repertorie among soprano roles (in primis Turandot) also some mezzo ones. The part of Amneris is technically written for a mezzo (also because the character must act as a counter-attraction to Aida, which is obviously a soprano) so we can not expect from Mrs Casolla a vibrant and compete low register which moreover as time goes on is like dried-up. But her voice in medium and upper register is still beautiful wide and bright, the accent is imperious, phrasing expressive.

Aida, Curtain call, Photo Teatro di Pisa

Aida, Curtain call, Photo Teatro di Pisa

The main character was Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi, who prudently announced an indisposition at the beginning of the opera, but this seemed not to affect much her vocal performance. She is a rather lyrical Aida, and we must notice a certain caution in reaching the upper register, I don’t know if because of her illness or for vocal unresolved problems, as well as a lack of incisiveness in the phrasing and in vocal volume, in fact her voice instead of soaring up was regularly covered in concertatos.

Tenor Leonardo Caimi managed rather honorably in the difficult part of Radames, being more effective in medium register that when it reaches the upper notes. Overall the character of the young warrior in love comes out fairly credible also scenically. We have to note that at the end of Celeste Aida Mr Caimi adopts the “low variant” repeating the words “vicino al sol” an octave below, which makes the air perhaps even more suggestive and poetic, though less “heroic”.

Baritone Sergio Bologna is still able to delineate the character of Amonasro both vocally both scenically with a certain incisiveness.
On a mid-level the others singers, with a mention of Emanuele Bono as Messaggero, called to sing a short but rather difficult part.

Conductor Marco Boemi had to deal with a recalcitrant orchestra and choir ,and gave a slow pacing (even too much!) but nonetheless he had problems with choir and orchestra. His conducting was disappointing, heavy and anonymous, without ideas or refinements, we can say that has led the performance at the end but nothing more.

Unfortunately this edition, following the initial Zeffirelli’s ideas for a very small theater, presents some cuts and among them the painful cuts of the ballets. 

The large Pisa audience (Teatro Verdi was sold out) decreed a very warm success for all.

Direttore, Marco Boemi
Regia, Franco Zeffirelli (ripresa da Stefano Trespidi)
Scene, Franco Zeffirelli
Costumi, Anna AnniCoreografia ripresa da Claudio Ronda
Compagnia Fabula SalticaOrchestra Filarmonia VenetaCoro LI.VE.
Maestro del Coro, Giorgio Mazzucato

Aida, Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi
Radamès, Leonardo Caimi
Amneris, Giovanna Casolla
Amonasro, Sergio Bologna
Ramfis, Elia Todisco
Il Re, George Andguladze
Una Sacerdotessa, Sofia Janelidze
Un Messaggero, Emanuele Bono

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