Monday, November 16, 2015


                                                                                        Celeste Aida, forma divina.
                                                                                        Mistico serto di luce e fior,
                                                                                        Del mio pensiero tu sei regina,
                                                                                        Tu di mia vita sei lo splendor.

                                                                                                    -- Aria from Act I, Aida

Twice a year I have the opportunity to shoot publicity stills and photograph a dress rehearsal for productions by Opera Southwest, our local opera company.  Last month, the production was Verdi's opera, Aida, performed for the first time in New Mexico -- somewhat surprising, given the much larger and older Santa Fe Opera just up the road.

Principal singers for the OSW production included Shana Blake Hill as Aida . . .

Kirstin Chavez as Amneris . . .

and Clay Hilley as Radames.

The story is a classic love triangle.  Aida, a slave (and, as it turns out, daughter of the king of Ethiopia), is servant to Amneris, daughter of the king of Egypt.  Both of them are in love with Radames, commander of the Egyptian army, who is sent to defend Egypt against the Ethiopians.  He returns victorious, but then things get complicated.  Tragedy ensues.

The opera premiered in Cairo on December 24, 1871, but Verdi considered its Milan premiere six weeks later to be its real premiere.  Aida was an instant success, and has become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the modern repertoire.  It has been performed over 1,100 times by New York's Metropolitan Opera alone.

Though I'm not a big opera fan per se, as a photographer I relish the rush of photographing a live performance.  Aida, as most operas do, offers a wealth of grand spectacle . . .

 powerful emotions . . .

great (but sometimes difficult) lighting . . .

and lots of big, dramatic gestures . . .

   . . . all happening in real time!

Oh, yes, of course there was great singing too.  You can hear a bit of Aida's aria in Act III which I captured after the dress rehearsal when the orchestra and singers were going over specific sections.  Click here, then click on the "play" arrow on the large (somewhat dark) image.  BTW, the fellow standing off to the side of Aida (Blake) in the video is her real-life husband.

If you would like to see these images and more in a larger format, visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


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