By: Chrysa Smith
A few years back, I had the brilliant idea of getting season tickets to the opera. Long story short, it left me with little to sing about. I mean I can watch and admire opera singers for short periods of time. In fact I find them truly amazing. But for a night out on the town, give me a Broadway show any time. Or, as it happened today, give me a more modern version of both.
Enter Aida. Not Giuseppe Verdi’s version, but the Disney presentation of Elton John and Tim Rice’s modern day musical. Sorry, traditionalists. Usually I’m with you where music and pomp and circumstance are concerned. But on this one, I’ve gone to the modern side. Because the combination of understandable lyrics with Broadway staging and direction makes this production new and fresh. And makes for a really enjoyable few hours of ancient-inspired entertainment.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the tragic love story takes place in Egypt, where the Pharoah has taken over neighboring Nubia. When Radames, the Captain of the Egyptian army finds a group of captured Nubian women, he is smitten by one named Aida. Of course, she’s like no other woman he has ever met. She’s got moxie, as they say, maybe even to a fault. But, one of many small complications; Radames is engaged to the Pharoah’s daughter, Princess Amneris.—an arrangement made by Radames manipulative father. And not wanting to bring any further pillaging to her native land or to herself, Aida keeps it secret that she too is a princess—daughter of the Nubian king.
As with most operas, lots of twists and turns, and the heat keeps getting turned up on Aida and Radames. Finally, with one foot in love and the other with their ties to their homelands, each must decide what to do. Radames forfeits his arranged marriage and his willingness to do further damage to any people, saving Aida’s Nubian King father in the process. Aida is offered a free pass to return to Nubia, but gets captured after needing to see Radames one last time.
How does it all end? Badly, of course. But the nice twist in this production is that the opening and the closing become one, leaving the viewer with hope and perhaps why we all might have moments of deja vu. See it if you can.