Aida in Philadelphia

Aida, Opera Company of Philadelphia
By George Loomis [Financial Times, 23 Feb 05]
Like picking a growth stock, the Opera Company of Philadelphia showed shrewd judgment by engaging sopranos (for two of its four 2004/05 productions) who promptly became media darlings.
Unfortunately, when the time came for Anna Netrebko, hugely touted by her record company, to sing in Don Pasquale, the stunning Russian soprano cancelled on the grounds of exhaustion. With Angela Brown, who created a stir with her Aida at the Metropolitan Opera last fall, the company again appeared dogged by bad luck, as illness forced her out of the premiere. But on Sunday she sang the second performance at the Academy of Music with no sign of diminished faculties. Brown lacks Netrebko’s figure but has a fine, full-bloomed soprano that rides handsomely over the most sonorous of Verdi’s ensembles. And her easy, unforced production of tone adds to the appeal. She took charge in “Ritorna vincitor” as if to assert that now the drama is really under way. But there is some unsteadiness in the middle register, the voice falls short of an ideal roundness of tone and one sometimes missed an arching sense of line. The treacherous high C in her second aria, “O patria mia”, hit squarely but cautiously, was not the crowning moment that it should be.
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