Bulgaria's Teatro Lirico d'Europa brought Verdi's Aida to town for three shows at the Cutler Majestic. It's one of TLE's best productions, with colorful and substantial sets that mix Giza, Karnak, and Super Bowl halftime. The chorus was particularly impressive, though the Egyptians seemed to have captured only one Ethiopian. My Aida was glamorous Bolshoi soprano Olga Chernisheva, whom I liked last year as TLE's Tosca, though I thought she sang everything too loud. Perhaps that has done some damage to her voice, which this time was unsettlingly unsteady, and as Verdi's enslaved Ethiopian, she was more cool than vulnerable. In TLE's previous Traviata, I liked Mexican tenor Gabriel González's voice but worried about his pitch. By the time he got to the Tomb Scene in Aida, his flat notes were crossing the pain threshold. Full-voiced Russian mezzo-soprano Tatyana Kamninskaya stole the show as a passionate, vindictive Amneris, Aida's royal rival. Krassimir Topolov remains too tame a conductor for these impassioned scores, but there's always good playing. TLE will be back March 6-8 for the classic Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci double bill.
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