Second cast delivers the Verdian goods in WNO “Aida”

Mon Sep 11, 2017 at 11:29 am

Leah Crocetto in the title role of Verdi’s “Aida” at Washington National Opera. Photo: Scott Suchman

The second cast of Verdi’s Aida took the stage Sunday afternoon at Washington National Opera in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Soprano Leah Crocetto proved the equal of her first-cast counterpart in the title role. She showed the dramatic potency that allowed her to soar over the large ensemble scenes, and her pianissimo singing was smooth and beautifully tuned. Her handling of the character was more dramatic as well, an Aida made of more volatile stuff.

Carl Tanner’s Radamès possesses a somewhat leathery tone, but sang with enough heroic heft to make the character imposing. His rendition of the Act I aria “Celeste Aida” was not as refined, hitting the high notes with force as many tenors do. As Amneris Russian mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya did well when she sang by herself, but her smaller voice was almost entirely lost in many of the ensembles. Her take on the character felt more openly violent, somehow less sinister than the smiling hatred of Ekaterina Semenchuk in the first cast.

A second hearing also brought more appreciation for two Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists in the cast. Norfolk-born tenor Frederick Ballentine made a strong-voiced, earnest Messenger. Soprano Madison Leonard, known to local audiences from her apprenticeship at Wolf Trap Opera in recent years, had an attractive turn as the High Priestess, singing from the orchestra pit to accompany this production’s beautiful dancing.

Aida runs through September 23. Tamara Wilson and Yonghoon Lee perform as Aida and Radames September 13, 16, 18, 21, and 23; Ekaterina Semenchuk will also sing Amneris on all those days except September 21. 

Leah Crocetto, Carl Tanner, and Marina Prudenskaya perform September 15 and 17; in addition, Marina Prudenskaya will sing Amneris on September 21.

The final performance will be simulcast to Nationals Park for the annual Opera in the Outfield event.; 202-467-4600.

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