Verdi’s Aida to come alive in Taipei Arena despite squabble

The China Post

By T.M. Fok–Working together with Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera di Roma (Rome Opera House) for the first time, Taipei will stage Verdi’s Aida in the Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋) on Sunday, Oct. 23, and Tuesday, Oct. 25, to mark the centenary of the Republic of China’s founding. First performed on stage in Egypt in 1871, the opera will be reincarnated in its full splendor, including the magnificent props and exquisite hand-made costumes designed and made for it in early 20th Century.

On the eve of the performances, however, a city councilor is accusing the city of being stingy with publicity expenses.

The star-studded cast directed by Italian director Maurizio di Mattia, including Belgian soprano of African origins Isabelle Kabatu, Italian tenor Mario Malagnini, Spanish Baritono Juan Pons, and Italian bass Giacomo Prestia, has been rehearsing for days under the baton of German conductor Niksa Bareza for their musical dates with Taipei opera aficionados.

Taiwanese tenor Chou Po-ku (周柏谷), bass Julian Lo (羅俊穎) and crooner Chou Ting-hui (周庭卉) will join their foreign counterparts on stage in the two performances.

After an interior re-modeling, the circular outdoor theater in the outskirts of the Italian capital will be re-created inside the Taipei Arena, complete with the eight-meter columns and ancient temple in a desert setting that promises to transport the audiences to the times of the Pharaohs.

For its fourth performance of the opera, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra has specially brought in a Barco Projection System from Belgium that would make Egyptian pyramids and temples come alive in the arena.

Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) from the opposition the Democratic Progressive Party, however, is accusing Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin has not done enough to bring the upcoming performances to the attention of the citizenry.

Only 4,159 tickets, out of a total of 10,510, have been sold, Wu said in a press release dated Oct. 20, adding the poor sale was a result of not enough publicity for the NT$34 million production.