Pá-pá-pá-papapa-paaa-papa… NTGent opens new season with festive ‘Aida’

‘Without imagination, there’s no future’.  Actor Steven Van Watermeulen was saying it, as Ferdinand De Lesseps, that French diplomat who built the Suez Canal, but it sounded almost as a motto for NTGent’s new season; for that new chapter with new artistic director Wim Opbrouck. The actor turned director wanted to start the season with an uplifting, festive performance and created an unorthodox version of Verdi’s Aida (with Christoph Homberger and Frank Van Laecke). At the premiere, yesterday evening, his Aida turned out to be a giant sing-a-long for actors,  choir and even audience. Indeed, not only was this Aida created with all the people working at NTGent – even the cleaning ladies and the accountants were part of the giant choir on stage – Opbrouck ánd that charismatic conductor Homberger managed to even get the whole audience singing for that classic Triumphal march. A joyous and funny evening (involving a marching band on stage as well) it sure was, but an unforgettable Aida? No. It would have been perfect as a one off-performance for the opening evening of the new season, but a ‘real’ performance that’s going to stay on the bill for a couple of weeks? Then you expect a little bit more than a jolly good atmosphere and a prophetic speech by De Lesseps. Oh, and don’t worry, although Opbrouck said his version would be an Aida without pyramids and elephants, you will get your elephant. (Aida* – Optimism is a moral duty, NTGent, till October 11, info here.)


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