Vancouver Opera: Aida

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Disclosure: Review — was not paid to write this review or any other. Michelle Kim did receive complimentary media tickets to the show in order to write her review. Please review the Policy & Disclosure section for further information.

The Vancouver Opera ends it season with a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, which is possibly the best production I’ve seen put on by the Vancouver Opera to date. Talk about ending with bang. Every single moment of this opera is absolutely riveting.

Vancouver Opera's AIDAAida tells the story of Aida, an Ethiopian princess, who is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh and Egypt. Things get complicated when Aida’s father is captured as well, forcing Radames to decide where his true allegiances lie—with his country or his heart.

This production was everything an opera should be—a story of star-crossed lovers, heart-wrenching librettos, grand sets, and gorgeous voices.

Stand-out performances were the women for me: Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas’s Amneris, daughter of the Pharoh, and Russian Mlada Khudoley’s Aida. Both these women were able to outshine all the gold on stage with their soaring songs and transcendent voices. I also love the ballet dancing incorporated into the production, choreographed by Chan Hon Goh. The lyrical dancing adds a rich physical texture, which runs beautifully in parallel with the vocal lyricism in the show.

The sets were on loan from the Edmonton Opera and while I found them a bit outlandish (I’m a minimalist, at heart), I was told that it was a really pared down set in comparison to other productions of this opera. I’m glad Vancouver Opera decided to pare down the set because it makes the audience focus more of the emotional realism of the story and the voices—which is a good thing, because that’s where the lavishness of Aida truly lies.

Vancouver Opera’s Aida runs until May 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

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