Photo credit: Hamilton Lund
There were three things I really enjoyed about Handa Opera’s Aida, set under a starry night sky against the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge:
1. The gorgeous background. I mean, you see the sun set over the opera house and bridge before the opera begins. And you’ve a great view too of the twinkling lights that come on in the skyscrapers downtown
2. Camels. There were 4 real life camels, including a baby! Radames rode in on one on his triumphant return to Egypt
3. Fireworks in the Second Act. When else, if ever, would you get fireworks during an opera?!?
Unfortunately though, we didn’t really enjoy the musical performance. For one, the orchestra was hidden under the stage and their playing broadcasted – too loudly – over the speakers. For another, given the alfresco staging, the singers were miked. We felt like we were watching a Broadway production of Aida instead of opera, where singers for the most part belted out their arias with no subtlety or beauty of tone. Aida herself put up an impassioned performance. But Radames we felt was too wooden and his voice indistinctive.
Faced with a jammed packed schedule the next morning and a blah musical performance, we decided to leave at intermission. I’ve seen a number of different Aida productions before anyway. Still, we were pleased to have experienced Opera by the Harbor at least once. Now we know what it’s about!