Theo Spring of the Croydon Advertiser wrote:
Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida is one of the most popular operas. The plot plays the gamut of a love triangle, intrigue, bravery, treachery, pathos, finding long lost family, war, armies, high royals and finally, since this is opera, death.
For this Surrey Opera peoduction, a `mix and match’ set changed effortlessly from Egyptian city to the temple of Ptah to the beautiful red and gold apartment of Princess Amneris.
Clever division of the same basic set created the route for the triumphal return of the soldiers, set to the opera’s most famous march.
Turn the steps and the central block and there was the hillside where Aida is to meet her love for the last time.
Filial love is strong, however, and it is now that the favour is sought which eventually sees the two lovers buried alive in a sealed tomb.
Verdi’s music for this opera offers considerable variety, from plaintive arias, harmonius duets and trios to the full-blooded might of the large and tuneful chorus.
Diana Vivian sang Aida on Tuesday, with Violetka Ivanova as her rival, Princess Amneris. The object of their love, Radamès, was given the strength and power expected of a conquering hero by David Hillman, who managed to show his softer, more romantic side without losing any stage presence.
The singing from all three principals was of high quality, their voices blending well in harmony.
Good casting and good voices provided excellent value in the support roles.
Gary Coward as Amonasro, Aida’s father, and Timothy Wray as the messanger gave particularly notable performances. Lawrence Reedwas imperial as the beautifully cloaked King of Egypt; Edward Caswell as Ramphis and Helen Hardwick as the High Priestess were a well-matched pair.
Some of the costumes were outstanding.
Wonderful tumbling from the Croydon School of Gymnastics added interest, and dancing from the Grayes Dance School, together with the ubiquitous Paul Cohen, added style and elegance.
The numerous young musicians, under the baton of Jonathan Butcher, deserve special praise, particularly the oboe soloist, but the final accolade goes to director Clive Bebee for creating such a memorable evening.