Aida 2013; David Bazemore Photo
Friday, March 1, 2013, 7:30pm
Sunday, March 3, 2013, 2:30pm
- Opera Santa Barbara presented a striking and moving Aida in Francesca Zambello's stark, reinvigorating production; modern and post-Modernist elements slip into the contextual mix of this roughed-up, scaled-down aesthetic, which respected the integrity of the original while zooming forward to a present-tense tension and relevance. The chance-taking inventiveness pays off - this Aida was an opera experience among the stronger ever staged in town.
– Josef Woodard / Santa Barbara News-Press
- Opera Santa Barbara premiered Aida in a performance that will beautifully color memories for years to come. This fresh take on Giuseppe Verdi's masterwork offered new insights; Zambello's production dispenses with the elephants and plays decidedly against the 'grand opera' tradition. The modern concept made for a production that was enthralling and unrelenting throughout, offering insights into the relevancy of opera as a dramatic art form today. The singing and acting was engaging, with a standout portrayal of Aida from Michelle Johnson. During the curtain call, the company received unbridled enthusiasm from patrons who appreciated this updated Aida.
– Robert F. Adams / CASA Magazine
- Opera Santa Barbara's newest production Aida really did start with a bang! The huge explosion on curtain up marked the introduction of an entirely new version of Verdi's beloved production. Gone were the ancient Egyptian backdrops, replaced with machine guns, jeeps and a setting more akin to the recent Libyan revolution, with bullet strewn walls and bombed infrastructure. Francesca Zambello's version of Aida concentrated on the romance rather than the spectacle to excellent effect under revival director Michael Rau. The three principals in the love triangle were perfect picks. This was a most marvelous production by any standard!
– Richard Mineards | Montecito Journal
- In this musically satisfying and dramatically different production of Aida, another meaning is layered onto the tragic confluence of love and death. This fully loaded update cracked the seal separating the stage of grand opera and the streets of contemporary Egypt. Aida was wonderfully sung and acted by Michelle Johnson; Ta'u Pupu'a made an excellent Radamès and Catherine Martin was outstanding as Amneris, her urgency dissolving into devastating pathos in the final act.
– Charles Donelan / Santa Barbara Independent
- Opera Santa Barbara didn't have to stretch operatic truth terribly far to pluck images of Arab Spring in its apt new production of Aida. Opera Santa Barbara has put a lot on the line by selecting Francesca Zambello's controversial new production; Michelle Johnson repeated her intensely dramatic Aida; Catherine Martin's Amneris took on enough depth of feeling to ultimately, and unexpectedly, make her the standout of the performance.
- Mark Swed / Los Angeles Times
Originally directed by Francesca Zambello
Scenery designed by Lee Savage
Original lighting design by Robert Wierzel; Re-created by Eric Southern
Costumes designed by Bibhu Mohapatra
Projected translation by Kelley Rourke
The scenery, lighting, costumes, sound design and translations were originally created for Glimmerglass Festival
Photo and Video Gallery
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Cast & Credits
Click on bolded names to view artist bios.
- Production: Francesca Zambello
- Conductor: Valéry Ryvkin
- Revival Director: Michael Rau
- Choreographer: Eric Sean Fogel
- Chorus Master: Brent Wilson
- Scenic Design: Lee Savage
- Costume Design: Bibhu Mohapatra
- Lighting Design: Eric Southern
- Hair/Makeup Design: Heather Sterling
CastAida: Michelle Johnson
- Radamès: Ta'u Pupu'a
- Amneris: Catherine Martin
- Amonasro: Norman Garrett
- Ramfis: Kevin Thompson
- The King: Christopher Remmel
- Messenger: Matthew Edwardsen
- High Priestess: Reyna Carguill