This early piece by Verdi, written for La Fenice when the composer was 33, is quite honestly not of the very highest inspiration. It does have one outstanding aria and a number of very melodious ones, as well as pleasing duets and ensembles, but they somehow do not seem to stick in the memory. However, there are many occasions for fine displays of singing and it is certainly well worth going to hear this comparative rarity.
Production and sets are by Paolo Baiocco, who goes ingeniously high-tech to solve one of the difficulties of staging this opera the necessity for frequent and radical scenery changes. He achieves this by video-projecting the scenes, which are kept traditional, on to four great sheets of PVC; these are arranged at the back and sides of the stage in the form of traditional backdrop and wings. Almost no props are used. This gives speed and flexibility to the numerous changes, which helps no end in keeping the evening flowing while at the same time being most effective.
The conductor is Antonio Pirolli; he sets a brisk pace from the start and keeps it up all evening; the Teatro dellOpera orchestra responds to this with feeling.
Attila is much the most sympathetic figure in this opera, proud and noble, and the bass Roberto Scandiuzzi sings the role with great feeling and resounding tones.
The Greek soprano, Dimitra Theodossiou, is Odabella. Her voice is not particularly beautiful but certainly arresting and dramatic and can always be heard. Her talents are displayed to the full in the one really good aria of the evening, the coloratura Santo di patria, in which she sings with terrifying venom of her desire for vengeance on the Hun who has killed her father.
Roberto Frontali as Ezio sings with assurance and pleasing tone and is an excellent foil to Attila, but the voice of the tenor Walter Fraccaro is perhaps not sufficiently heroic for the role of Foresto.
Teatro dellOpera di Roma, Piazza Beniamino Gigli 1, Rome
Tel. 06 481601 www.opera.roma.it. 9 March 2005
Further performances 11, 13, 15, 19, 22 March.