Aida is a grand opera. There are horses. There are ballet numbers. There are massive sets and ornate costumes. And what could be grander than having Anna Netrebko headline the Met’s 2018-2019 Live in HD season opener ?
I’ll be the first one to admit that Aida has never interested me. Whether it be the mercilessly hot desert locale of Egypt or the tension of two women fighting over one man (I infinitely prefer two disparate, but equally impassioned, suitors sparring over one fair maiden in my ideal operatic amorous affair), the opera has never been a very important “must see” for me except for its fame alone.
But this was Anna Netrebko’s Met role debut as Aida… how was I to miss that ????
We all knew that Netrebko would be lauded as the star of this opera. More surprisingly, she had arguably one of the toughest battles of her career up against her mezzo-soprano rival, Anita Rachvelishvili’s fearsome Amneris. Hailing from Georgia (and I don’t mean the state), Rachvelishvili prowled the stage like a lioness eyeing her prey. Gripped and enraged, her stentorian voice roared during the showdown scene with Netrebko upon learning of her slave’s concealed love for the warrior, Radamès. I ate it up like a meaty dish of stew, salivating for more. It was the highlight of the opera for me.
The opera fizzled to a slow burn after the early fireworks between Netrebko and Rachvelishvili. Was my opinion changed after seeing Aida for myself ? Not particularly. Oh, well… There is a possibility of my future attendance, but only if Anna and Anita are cast in the starring roles ! Another toe-to-toe contest of prodigious prowess would be worth the sullen bore of the plot.
Due to a previous project which swallowed up my sewing schedule unexpectedly (ahem, Dalila), I had under a month to conceive, curate, and craft my costume for Aida. I doubt I’ll ever do that again. Since the Met’s production has been around for over 30 years, the pictorial research wasn’t difficult. While the obvious choice would have been to masquerade as the titular Ethiopian slave/princess, I was more drawn to her glitzy Egyptian rival, Amneris, and began my work on mimicking the character’s garb, almost as if I was to be her doppelgänger.
The outfit came together in the nick of time and was a fun way to immerse myself in the ancient Egyptian culture. Though I based my costume off of pictures from the opera, I still engaged in my usual research for historically-based operas.
The lamé cape was my favorite part… as well as the patrons of the theater ! I was repeatedly asked to spread its golden folds to reveal its full glamour.
Later in the month, I wore this same costume for Halloween as it was perfectly acceptable for Cleopatra. While the flocks and droves easily recognized me as the most famous Queen of the Nile, I wonder how many of them knew of the other great Egyptian Royal… the one in Verdi’s grand opera… Amneris !
Toi, Toi, Toi,
Curious about how I crafted my Egyptian ensemble in such a hasty dash ? Read my tutorial post detailing the creation of my lookalike costume ! http://costumeclosetcouture.com/2020/06/16/amneris-%e2%94%80-from-broadcloth-to-egyptian-glamour-in-under-a-month/
Cast and Credits:
Aida ─ Giuseppe Verdi (1871)
Live in HD air date: October 6, 2018
Aida ─ Anna Netrebko
Amneris ─ Anita Rachvelishvili
Radamès ─ Aleksandrs Antonenko
Amonasro ─ Quinn Kelsey
Ramfis ─ Dmitry Belosselskiy
The King ─ Ryan Speedo Green
Conductor ─ Nicola Luisotti
Production ─ Sonja Frisell
Set Designer ─ Gianni Quaranta
Costume Designer ─ Dada Saligeri
Lighting Designer ─ Gil Wechsler
Choreographer ─ Alexei Ratmansky
Live in HD Director ─ Gary Halvorson
Host ─ Isabel Leonard