And so to the opera. I have been to see Opera North's semi-staged concert version of 'Aida', a rather different experience to the last time that I saw it. As opposed to hordes of non singing extras dressed as Ancient Egyptians this had only the main cast and chorus in modern dress. The Egyptian king and priests were in business suits, Amneris in designer dresses, while Radames was in generic Middle Eastern militia chic. For the Ethiopians Aida herself was dressed in the most unflattering cargo trouser/t-shirt combination and bizarrely her father appeared to be done up as a Mexican peon. Musically it was naturally first class, with mezzo Alessandra Volpe as Princess Amneris being especially good.
Tenor Rafael Rojas never had a chance to shine vocally because he had lost his voice and was unable to sing. This led to something I had never seen before. Luis Chapa was flown in to substitute - and the fact that singers are able to do so at a moment's notice is astonishing to me - but Rojas 'walked' the part i.e. acted it out while the sound came from elsewhere. It all worked well enough as long as one didn't look at his face; lip-synching obviously doesn't yet feature in an opera singer's training.
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