Culture – Columbus Style
A little background. A few years ago, Brad and I stumbled upon a broadway musical while in New York – Aida. It was incredible. The score was magnificent, the cast was supurb. We felt the emotion, we laughed and cried. I bought the soundtrack in the lobby on the way out. It is the 1st and only soundtrack of anything I own and I play it all the time, reliving the beautiful story.
So, when we found out that Aida was coming to the RiverCenter, right here in Columbus, both Brad and I got excited and bought tickets almost immediately. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas all last week, seriously. I couldn’t believe how much I was looking forward to a great show in a gorgeous venue with my husband.
When we got there and I reviewed the program, my hopes were dashed a bit. You see, the broadway musical version of Aida is a remake of a famous Opera written by Giueseppe Verdi that premiered in 1871. And yes, you know where this is going, we were at the Opera!
Now, lest you think we have no class, we decided that although the music would undoubtedly be vastly different and the story may be altered, we were in it. However… there were a few issues with the low budget traveling show that disappointed us at best and caused Brad to develop a feeling of self-combustion if he had to stay a minute past intermission.
1. The Hero. Radames is an Egyptian war hero in a dramatic love triangle. On Broadway, he was played by a striking, talented and extremely attractive young man that bore his chest frequently and made you want to love him and feel for his pain. Our version was a 60 year old, overweight, under-tall gentleman in a short skirt that made you want to throw him some pants and in no way could make you believe that two princesses were in love with him.
Full Disclosure – the photos of the Broadway Show (left) are from the actual show Brad & I saw; the photos from the opera (right) are much better than the actual show we endured 1/2 of.
2. The Egyptian Princess. Again, more eye-candy in the Broadway version. Young, beautiful, shapely and talented. Our version was shapely in her own way and was unfortunately older than the actor playing her father, the King. She and Radames actually looked like they fit together (but that didn’t help the storyline).
3. The Ethiopian/Nubian Princess (Aida). In the Broadway show, she was also a beautiful woman with talent beyond belief and most importantly was a woman of color, ie she was appropriately an African American actress playing an African princess. Our version of Aida was the most attractive person in the cast and had a powerful, breathtaking voice – it was just difficult getting past her lily-white, obviously non-African skin, and she in no time or place could have been in love with “our” Radames.
4. The set. I never expected Broadway sets so that didn’t bother me too much. However, the costumes looked like they were sewn after the crew picked up some sheets at J.C. Penney on the way to the theater and were complete with white tube socks for the Egyptians.
5. The music. You already heard how much I enjoyed the music in the Broadway version – I’m still singing it. The music in our version was very good as well. Unfortunately, because it was an Opera, it was all in Italian. This was what became quickly known to me previewing the program before the 1st curtain, but in the end became the final straw for Brad. And I completely understand. I certainly won’t be rockin’ it out on my IPod any time soon. No offense to Verdi, but we like the Elton John/Tim Rice score better – or perhaps we can just understand it better 🙂 .
Here’s what we thought we were getting (the actors featured in the 1st three are the ones we saw in person):
Aida, Audition Video (ignore the solicitation for cast members,unless you are interested 🙂 )
Aida, Elaborate Lives (this one is live and a little steamy, our view wasn’t this good)
Just to prove it’s more than a love story:
Here’s what we got:
Bottom line, we still highly recommend Aida. We just also recommend reading the small print and if you decide the original Opera is for you – spend the extra money to do it right (and for most of us, that means airfare).