It’s Rhodes’s Verdi
CharlesOsborne sees a well-dressed Aida
THIS IS English National Opera’s first new production of Verdi’s masterpiece Aida since 1979.
It is directed by Jo Davies, working for ENO for the first time. She makes the complicated action of the opera clear and easy to understand, greatly helped by the sets and costumes by Zandra Rhodes, one of Britain’s bestknown fashion designers, working in opera for the first time in the UK, although she has previously designed for San Diego Opera in California.
Claire Rutter, a fine exponent of soprano roles in Italian operas, is a formidable Aida, her voice rising with ease above the chorus and orchestra, and she has a superb partner in tenor John Hudson as Radamès, a role he has sung with Scottish Opera.
Making her British debut, an American mezzo-soprano Jane Dutton performs the role of Amneris. Like Davis and Rhodes, this is also a career first for Dutton and she sings most excitingly and acts with great conviction. Amonasro, Aida’s father, is portrayed firmly by the bass-baritone Iain Paterson, and Gwynne Howell, an old favourite, brings his vast experience and strong bass voice to the role of the Pharaoh.
Stylishly conducted by ENO’s music director Edward Gardner, this is an Aida well worth seeing. The final performance is on December 7. Tel: 0871 911 0200
JaneDutton( left) andClaireRutterwearZandraRhodes’scostumesin Aida