LA Scene: LA Opera performance of Verdi's Aida

I've gone to the LA Opera once a year for the last three years. It is a great excuse to dress up and to experience the emotional power of the performing arts. Indeed, it is a little expensive but for an annual treat, it is just fine.

I've seen Turandot, Madama Butterfly and now Aida.

As an opera novice, I don't have a large pool of knowledge to draw from to comment but as I compare it with the other two I've seen, it is more emotionally satisfying than the other two. Not more emotionally intense, that prize goes to Butterfly but more satisfying in that I don't leave the opera house feeling terribly sad (Butterfly) or having a ambiguous sense of the reality or non-realty of the love of the two characters (Turandot).

It is a running joke about opera that everyone dies at the end though in Turandot that isn't the case but there was the threat of death!

Well, in Aida, I hope it doesn't ruin it for you, dear readers, for me to say that death happens at the end. However, unlike the tragic solitary death of Butterfly by suicide in Madama Butterfly, the sorrowful end of Aida is elevated by love and companionship in death. See the opera or read a synopsis and you will know what I mean.

Aida as a stage production is rather lavish. Lots of great colorful costumes and as a four-act story, there are some set and scenery changes which are pretty neat.

An element I didn't know about in advance was the extended ballet and dance sections in the opera. These were set to beautiful music, lively choreography and excellent usage of props.

The beauty of the music works at two levels for me: since we have supertitles in English, there is the cognitive element of the words that reaches the mind first then stirs the heart as the emotion of the words take root; and the other level is the sheer beauty of the aural quality of voice and music that conveys emotion directly bypassing the intellect as I don't know Italian and I'm not always watching the supertitles.

My final comment about the event is the demographics of the audience. In the past, I had a picture of opera in my head as an "old persons" kind of thing or of the "Frazier Crane" snooty crowd. The reality is, after seeing three operas now, the opera audience is actually quite diverse and even I dare say young. And LA is LA after all and the crowd though well dressed is far from 100% swanky.

Here is the LA Opera page for the current production of Aida which ends this week.