BSO Music director Andris Nelsons conducted Verdi’s Aida, Acts I & II at Tanglewood, in the Koussevitsky Music Shed on Aug. 20, 2016, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, soloists Kristine Opolais, Violeta Urmana, Andrea Carè, Alfredo Nigro, Franco Vassallo, Morris Robinson, Kwangchul Youn, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, leading a performance that was as beautiful as any we’ve ever heard.
We knew, going in, that it would be an exciting concert, given the venue, program, and the artists involved (especially the always-awesome Tanglewood Fetival Chorus), but never expected to be so thouroughly engaged and stimulated that we felt a pang of sadness as it came to a close. Of course, to an opera aficionado, the end of this performance would’ve only marked the midway point of Aida, which consists of four Acts.
Aida is about conflict bertween Egypt and Ethiopia
My interest in the libretto extended only to its role distributing parts to the soloists and the TFC, so they could produce the singing that was so perfectly married to the instrumental score. I did keep up with the English supertitles – because they were there and impossible to ignore, but would’ve been happy without them. They alone wouldn’t tell you enough of the backstory for the plot to be particularly meaningful, except that there was some brouhaha between Egypt and Ethiopia. Regardless the righteousness of either side’s cause, however, the King, as portrayed by bass Morris Robinson, was so compelling in Act 1 that I went looking for where to enlist in his army during intermission.
And you may be aware that soprano Kristine Opolais, who sang Aida tonight, is married to Maestro Nelsons; banish the thought that there’s any nepotism involved with this casting, as she totally rocked the role! Since the operatic lexicon is beyond my ken, suffice it to say all of the soloists sang beautifully, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, led tonight by guest conductor James Burton, was spectacular, not missing a beat since the retirement last season of founding conductor John Oliver.
About Tanglewood: box office, tickets, getting there, nearby hotels
Tickets for the 2016 Tanglewood season, $12-$124, go on sale January 24 starting at 10 a.m. through Tanglewood’s website, www.tanglewood.org, SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA. Tanglewood brochures with complete programs and information on how to order tickets will be available in early February by calling 617-638-9467. For further information, please call the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 617-266-1492 or visit www.tanglewood.org. 2016 Tanglewood schedule – PDF.
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Getting around the Tanglewood campus
The Tanglewood campus, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center comprises several hundred acres in the towns of Lenox and Stockbridge. It is the location of the Koussevitsky Music Shed and Ozawa Hall, where hundreds of thousands attend concerts and a variety of events, including picnics. We always advise new visitors to arrive early and take their daily walking exercise wandering the beautiful Tanglewood grounds.
Here is a dynamic map of the Tanglewood grounds, with photos and information for such points of interest as Aaron Copland Library, Highwood Manor House, The Glass House, and The Lion’s Gate.
Saturday, August 20, 8 p.m. Shed
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Kristine Opolais, soprano (Aida)
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano (Amneris)^^
Andrea Carè, tenor (Radames)^^
Alfredo Nigro, tenor (Messenger)^^
Franco Vassallo, baritone (Amonasro)^^
Morris Robinson, bass (The King)
Kwangchul Youn, bass (Ramfis)^
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
VERDI Aida, Acts I and II
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
^^BSO and Tanglewood debuts