By Maestro Giuseppe Raffa

Aida also crossed the channel and was staged at a unique London venue known as Earls Court, where most of this capital’s prestigious and spectacular events are held. The event saw the organizational participation of great promoter Harvey Goldsmith and it was a great success, with for the three performances totalling over 60,000, with a great presence of young people and new opera goers. All enthusiastically applauding the spectacular virtual scenery and the cast of opera stars in this opera extravaganza.








Report Rodney Milnes – THE SUNDAY TIMES

A Verona for the best of the century – but it is very much the thing, certainly after the recent success of Madame Butterfly at the Albert Hall. But Earls Court, where Harvey Goldsmith mounted Maestro Giuseppe Raffa’s Operama production of Aida for a three-performance run, made the Albert Hall look like a studio theatre.
This was big stuff, with a cast of hundreds performing to heaven knows how many thousand spectators. Antonio Mastromattei’s tiered set offered four acting areas on four separate levels, connected by moving stairways that could be covered for more intimate scenes.
The décor came by way of elaborate, constantly shifting projections which could be “wiped” cinematically. Brightly coloured, they varied from crispy defined hieroglyphics to pyramids, to architectural motifs, to garish splodges that may or may not have metamorphosed into Egyptian artefacts.
There was not much in the way of production other than “stand and sing”, nor need there have been, in the circumstances. The army of extras was efficiently marshalled: only the reach me down choreography was disappointing.
Placing the orchestra under one of the levels minimized problems of communication, but of course there had to be amplification, and it was better managed than often in the past. On the first night it favoured the voices at the expense of the players at first, but someone twiddled the knobs halfway through – not altogether to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra advantage. The excellent Philharmonia chorus too was over-miked.
At least it did not unduly distort some fine voices. Wilhelmenia Fernandez, on top form, was glamorous.
Dennis O’Neill secure, warmly moulded tone and for his sensitive, soft singing.
There was an exciting new comer as Amneris, the Polish mezzo Malgorzata Walewska, easy at the top of the range and sweet toned Aida, secure right up to a genuine pianissimo top C in the Nile Aria. The world is not exactly crawling with tenors who can sing Radames, which should make one all the more grateful for richly coloured at the bottom Walter Donati, most unfortunately costumed as a pantomime dame, was the forthright Amonasro.
Any problems? The absence of subtitles must have worried some people, but not me – it was good to sit in an audience listening to the performance rather than reading it. And wish there had been a conductor more responsive than Raffa to the dramatic rhythm of Verdi’s music, one with less developed taste for extremes of tempo.
Not an evening for purists maybe, but no serious damage was done to Verdi, and the audience enjoyed itself hugely.