Kaleidoscope of Harmony, Voices & Colors in Verdi’s Aida
On March 4, the long-awaited performance Aida triumphantly conquered the stage of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. It was a real festival of Verdi’s music, as well as a nice occasion that presented to the Georgian audience a bouquet of the most renowned Georgian opera singers, usually scattered all over the world.
Aida happened to be an opening soiree for the 165th anniversary season of Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater and tickets were sold long before the premiere. The director was Stefano Trespidi, Zeffirelli’s entrusted representative. The special guest of the day was outstanding conductor Daniel Oren, who came just for the concert.
“Where, in the past, the best world voices were from Italy, nowadays, they belong to Georgia,” Oren said.
Iano Tamar, renowned Georgian soprano, sang the part of Aida. We asked for comments before the performance: “I met this offer to participate in this staging with childish enthusiasm. This is really a festive event. Here, our opera elite are represented. However, we have many more famous stars. We are like one family, with a director who is distinguished for his high professionalism and sense of humor. We are very happy and will be even happier if such projects multiply in Georgia”.
“It has been a great luxury that even some developed countries cannot afford. I have sung in Aida for twelve years now, but this performance is really distinguished,” George Oniani, famous tenor, playing the part of Radames, said.
The mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili played Amneris.
“Georgians are very critical of Georgian singers. It’s a well-known fact that before Georgians acknowledge you, the world should acknowledge you,” Rachvelishvili said. “So, I feel a great responsibility. I’m very lucky that I will be performing with such a great troupe. Zeffirelli is a never changing Libretto and his performances are always simple and beautiful. He has become renowned for his visual splendor.”
Rachvelishvili is said to be a unique female singer, and with seemingly limitless vocal and artistic capacities, she mesmerized the audience. She has been nominated for the Opera Awards 2017 in the category of Best Female Singer. This is already a victory, as not a single mezzo soprano has ever been nominated for this prestigious category. Winners of the 2017 International Opera Awards will be announced on May 7 at the London Coliseum.
Ramaz Chikviladze, bass, playing the King of Egypt, told GEORGIA TODAY, “No one should complain that a lot of money has been spent on this. If we want a renaissance, we should spare nothing. I think that the Ministry of Culture should do much more for the Theater. These are voices that can adorn any stage of the world”.
George Andghuladze, a 32-year-old bass, is an Italian citizen who always appears as a Georgian singer. As a child, he met with the legend Robertino Loreti in Almaty, who told him that he reminded Loreti of his childhood. Andghuladze has worked with Trespidi and Marco Boemi [the conductor of the March 5 and 7 performances] before. “This project would not have happened but for the initiative and dedication of Badri Maisuradze [the artistic head of the Opera]. We need co-productions to fully overcome the crisis and be equal to world standards, even more so now that the potential is there.”
George Gagnidze, baritone, played the part of the Ethiopian King, Aida’s father: “This is a great event for Georgia, as Zeffirelli has never been staged here. Symbolically, this is Aida’s year for me. After Tbilisi, I’m going to the Metropolitan where Aida awaits me again. Later, in autumn, I will participate in Placido Domingo's Aida World Tour and sing Amonasro's part in Stockholm and Frankfurt. I sang in 11 performances of Franco Zeffirelli in the US. In 2016, I performed six times in Zeffirelli’s Pagliacci which was staged by his assistant Stefano Trespidi, the same director who staged Aida in Tbilisi.”
There are several versions of Aida. This is the second version, staged in Busseto, Parma, Verdi’s homeland. The Georgian premiere came to an end with riotous applause and a sea of flowers.
As the singers mentioned during interviews with GEORGIA TODAY, this is an experiment, and if people like it the Tbilisi Opera Theater will continue hiring performances from abroad. Judging by the delight of the audience, we should anticipate many more impressive shows. On March 5, a mixed troupe performed, and on March 7, foreign singers presented Aida. The local soloists and troupe will present Aida with the same decorations on March 12, 15 and 18. All performances are held together with a local choir, ballet and orchestra.