What a shame the performance of Verdi‘s Aida at the Tbilisi State Opera tonight interfered with the audience’s conversations, mobile phones, coming-and-going, and general overall rudeness. The audience members were so determined to chatter, they even had to talk louder to hear each other over the louder sections of the music. Then they probably thought that lots of inappropriate clapping would make it all better, rather than being further disruptive. And the standing ovation at the end also didn’t help (the cast must have also noticed the rude audience, since despite the standing ovation they did not even bother to come out for a bow at the end).
The performance itself (or what I could hear) was OK. Orchestra was once again good, cast was mostly fine if not special. The Amonasro was excellent. The Radames was the same person who sang the tenor lead last Sunday – he has a good voice, but funny Italian pronunciation (and at one point obviously forgot the words and just sang la-la-la-la, not that anyone was likely to notice other than me).
The mock Egyptian staging was dumb – it was not clear that the director understood Italian or even read the libretto in any language, since the action on stage often had little relation to what was being sung. Some of these were just details, but some were not explicable: for example, in the final scene, Radames (and Aida) were not enclosed in the tomb until the final moments (when the whole scene is supposed to take place already in the tomb – that’s the whole point). When Radames sings that not even his strong arms can move the rock away from the entrance to the tomb (which, again, makes no sense if they are not inside), the director had Radames, and then Aida, sip water (or was it poison?) ostentatiously from a ceremonial dish.