tt0255782. Aida (1981) San Francisco. Verdi / Italian. An Egyptian military commander, Radamès, struggles to choose between his love for the enslaved Ethiopian princess Aida, and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris is in love with Radamès, although he does not return her feelings.
Antonio Vivaldi's opera is set on the enchanted island of the sorceress Alcina. Although old and ugly, Alcina can make herself appear beautiful to bewitch courtiers who set foot in her realm. When fate brings Angelica; her lover, Medoro; and the jealous Orlando to the island, Alcina finds herself challenged. American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne heads a stellar cast in this San Francisco Opera production.
Duke Fergus falls for Ann 'Flaxen' Tarry in the Barbary Coast in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. He loses money to crooked gambler Boss Tito Morell, goes home, learns to gamble, and returns. After he makes a fortune, he opens his own place with Flaxen as the entertainer; but the 1906 quake destroys his place.
This was a 1988 revival of a 1971 production that teamed Domingo (Vasco da Gama) and Verrett (Selika - both then very much in their prime) in Meyerbeer's discursive swan-song. Seventeen years on, they are more statuesque than sexy, but both give larger-than-life performances that contain moments of completely thrilling vocalism. The casting is very strong, with the exception of Justino Diaz's Nelusko, which has strong presence but not much vocal allure. As Inez, Vasco da Gama's fiancee and rival for Shirley Verrett, Ruth Ann Swneson sings with great beauty and has impressive stage presence, very much holding her own in the confrontation with Verrett in the last act. Domingo is refulgent of tone and dramatically convincing, and he and Verrett strike sparks. She really comes into her own in one of the most preposterous mad-scenes in all opera, where she is slowly poisoned by the scent of a giant tree, contriving to make this dramatically truthful and even moving.