Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Grand Finale...

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) presented its season finale consisting of a concert version of Verdi's Aida.  This was a grand performance with AMC having hardly a quibble.  Here are a few observations:

1.  The ASO is larger than most opera orchestras and the added richness of a full orchestra was impressive.
2.  The soloists were outstanding.  Mezzo Michelle DeYoung is particularly impressive.  She is quite tall and she is able to convey the emotion of the libretto and music very effectively.  Latonia Moore, the soprano who sang the title role was also very impressive.  She has an incredibly large voice that carries even into her lower range.  AMC's quibble is that she tended to overwhelm anyone who was singing with her.  For example, she drowned out Ms. DeYoung.  Its great to have a large voice, but if it comes at the cost of effective ensemble singing, then it is time to reign it in.  Stuart Neil, who played the role of Radames, Aida's love interest.  Mr. Neill is quite impressive.  He sang effortlessly and has a golden tone.  Mr. Neill is ponderous.  He wore a long coat that was skin tight.  His legs looked short, which increased his apparent size.  Pairing him with Ms. Moore, a large, but short woman, made for a very robust couple.
3.  The ASO performed flawlessly.  This three hour concert required great concentration and stamina, both qualities which the orchestra members seemed to tackle effectively.  AMC gives a special shout out to the trumpets, trombones, and clarinets.
4.  The Atlanta Symphony Chorus (aka, the Atlanta Yell chorus), did its usual job of yelling to drown out both the ASO and the soloists.  But overall Atlanta audiences love that chorus probably as a result of the legacy of the locally venerated Robert Shaw.  But really- 150 voices?  AMC is continually amazed that Maestro Spano doesn't hear the imbalance.  Several discerning audience members also complained about the volume of the chorus.  Some patrons suggested that earplugs would make the experience better.
5.  Radames and Aida could have lasted longer in the tomb if they didn't sing.

In sum this was a spectacular ending to the season.  AMC hopes that the contract negotiations between ASO management and musicians proceeds smoothly and effectively over the summer.  A repeat of the contentiousness of two years ago would best be avoided.  

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