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The Met Opera's revival of Verdi's Aida opens tomorrow night, Oct 2. According to the production credits on the Met website, Alexei Ratmansky is part of the production team, choreographing the dances. Evidently he's in town anyway for his upcoming Scarlatti ballet with ABT and I guess he's multitasking.

I heard from a report on the dress rehearsal yesterday that Roberto Bolle led the dances in Aida but so far the Met hasn't listed dancer casting. I guess

we will have to wait for reports from the premiere tomorrow for that.

Note to HD fans, Aida will be shown in movie theaters Oct 24 with an encore performance on Nov 11. The encore in Canada is listed for Nov 21.


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Note to HD fans, Aida will be shown in movie theaters Oct 24 with an encore performance on Nov 11. The encore in Canada is listed for Nov 21.
Both performances are sold out here, in several different theaters. I guess there are a lot of people who want to say farewell to this production. I delayed and didn't get tickets, so I hope it will show up on tv. :)
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It's the second intermission of th HD broadcast of "Aida". Alexei Ratmansky, who did the choreography, was interviewed at the beginning of the break, and is, officially, my hero, having survived Renee Fleming with grace. When asked about the difference between choreographing for Verdi vs. Russian composers, he talked about the music's danceability and the melodies. He said there wasn't the need to count. She asked about the difference between re-working in an existing production and a new one, and he spoke about the challenge positively, but did mention using a lot more space in the studio, before someone came in and marked off actual space which was a lot less.

The pas de deux in Amneris' chamber was fabulous, a real neoclassical pas. I have little sense of the piece in the Triumphal scene, due to the camera editing, where, apparently, someone was over-caffeinated.

More later.

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he spoke about the challenge positively, but did mention using a lot more space in the studio, before someone came in and marked off actual space which was a lot less.
An experience more universal than we would like!
...due to the camera editing, where, apparently, someone was over-caffeinated.


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I have to admit to having gone because of Ratmansky's eight minutes (max) of choreography, but I am so glad I did. I've seen this production before live, where Irina Mishura's Amneris was the saving grace. I thought all three principals were superb vocally, and I'm glad that all three are getting the exposure of a worldwide general opera audience.

Sadly, the transmission in Seattle broke 1/3 through Johan Botha's "Celeste Aida". I'm going to have to buy the DVD to see how it ended; the first part was so good. This was the first performance since my first -- 1971 with Arroyo and Bumbry -- where I liked the Aida (Violetta Urmana) as much, if not more than the Amneris, here Dolora Zajick, who owns the role at the Met.

I wish they didn't whip the titles by so fast at the end. I'm not sure who the Amorasro was, but I love the way he built the scene with Aida in Act III. He had a lot of stateliness in his bearing. His approach wasn't as down-and-dirty manipulative as Richard Paul Fink's under-reviewed and under-appreciated performance in Seattle Opera's silver cast in summer 2008 -- that was worthy of his Alberich-- but it was beautifully paced.

The men's chorus in the beginning of t he Act 1/Scene 2 Temple Scene was eerily and effectively soft. The entire scene, thankfully free of dancers in gauze, had a feeling of seriousness and ceremony. Although the conductor's approach could be ponderous at times, the strings played the atmospheric orchestration with delicacy and life, and there was some marvelous work by the flautist and oboist. The temple singer was disappointingly rough and off-pitch: she didn't seem to find the center of her voice.

Renee Fleming is very entertaining, although probably not in the way she intends, but no one can accuse her of being a bad sport.

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I'm so glad to be able to have your report, Helene. It turns out that tickets became available for the Encore (Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m. Eastern), so I will be able to see the production one last time. Ratmansky's participation will be a bonus, and I'm especially looking forward to the pdd in Amneris's chamber. I have, somewhere, a tape of a PBS performance, I think. So it might be fun to compare Ratmansky's use of time, space and music with what was done in the 1980s.

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Out of curiosity, I prepped for last night's Encore by watching my old video of the 1988 "Live from the Met" performance of the same production. The cast -- Aprile Millo, Placido Domingo, and a youthful Dolores Zajick - were a good deal more handsome and dramatically effective than the current cast. They sang beautifully and seemed to have less miking than the 2009 cast.

Vocally, Zajick is still a wonder, though even less in control of her facial expression and those amazing rolling eyes than she was in 1988. As in 1988, the most satisfying parts of the performance involved her: the Act I scene with Aida, with its beautiful blending of suprano and mezzo, and the trio at the end, with Amneris' heart-breaking growling prayer for the 2 lovers.

I found myself focusing on Ratmansky's contributions, especially the charming, elegant, light-hearted, pas de deux for the scene in Amneris's room. I loved the two young dancers, who looked completely joyful. One of the dancers lost part of the costume -- a wrist ornament, which lay on the floor for most of the performance. At the end, a dancer just snapped it up and carried it off as they rushed off. Smiling all the while..

The Triumphal March dance looked interesting but was obscured by super-busy camera work. (Someone had placed a camera high up in the rafters, aimed down at the stage. The was effective for part of the March and for one or two temple scens, but not for the dancing. I was delighted to see how fundamentally classical all the dancing was.

Edited to add: The difference between the choreography in 1988 and Ratmansky's is striking -- and very much in Ratmansky's favor. The dance in Amneris' boudoir is a pas de trois (2 women and one man). It's perky but aimless, with lots of jumps and arm waving. Very nondescript, ending in all three falling to the floor in what I assume was intended to look like exhaustion. Something from the high-school musical, it merely distracted from a vocally beautifully scene.

The big dance number had 24 dancers in 1888. (I didn't count Ratmansky's group, but I'd guess it was 16.) It's basically balletic but strangely amateurish -- lots of skipping, random jumping, a bit of calesthenics. I found myself thinking about synchronized swim team performing on land? The music is simple and repetitive, and not very interesting, so this version seemed to go on ... forever.

Although Ratmansky was not involved, I was struck by how superior the direction -- and "choreography" of movement -- for the Ethiopian captives was in 1988. Deeply moving, both in long shot and closeup, with every member of the group in character. This was not the case in 2009, perhaps because the HD camera and the big screen have a way of capturing every millisecond of inattention or loss of concentration. And there was more of that than there should have been.

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