There are no elephants and gaudy sculptures to be found at the Glimmerglass Festival’s staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s epic opera seria Aida, which recently kicked off the 2012 season in Cooperstown, New York. Instead, opera-goers will witness a milked down, updated production of the overblown Egyptian tragedy.
“Every time I have directed Aida before this summer, I’ve done it on a very large scale,” said director Francesca Zambello. “Now, to do an intimate version of it is a thrilling discovery for me. The chance to focus on the characters and not on spectacle has allowed us to understand the story and Verdi’s music in what feels like a very fresh and contemporary way.”
One aspect of the opera that does get a dose of opulence is the costume design. Up-and-coming New York fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra was tapped to create the couture for the production, which runs through August 25.
“I turned to Bibhu—whose clothes I wish I could wear all the time—to create a world that is evocative of the contemporary Middle East, but that could create its own mythic language,” the director told The Observer. Ms. Zambello was delighted with Mr. Mohapatra’s results, saying, “His understanding of character and translating it into color and fabric and design has been revelatory for all of us in the theater.”