I love Verdi's music, and Aida is no exception. It is not my absolute favourite of Verdi's operas, I think La Traviata is my favourite, but it is one of them especially for its grand scope and brilliant music. This production is one of the better versions I have seen of this fine opera, to me it is better than the 1985 La Scala performance with Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Chiara and Juan Pons which was quite good on the whole but some of the costumes took me out of the setting.
The story is a compelling one with themes of jealousy and love, and told beautifully here. The music is superb, the highlights for me are the Grand March which is very rousing, Aida's Nile aria which gives me goosebumps and the end of Act 4 duet which is one of Verdi's finest moments.
As for this production, the sets are imperial and majestic, and the costumes are exquisite and authentic. James Levine conducts with his usual reliability and the orchestra perform impeccably.
The singing and acting I have little to fault. Placido Domingo is a great choice for Rhadames, he is very handsome, heroic and likable, with a great voice and charismatic presence. I do agree that Celeste Aida was not as good as it could have been, it wasn't bad at all, just occasionally strained, but when it comes to Domingo here that was my only disappointment. By Act 3 he is as brilliant as ever. Aprille Millo is a wonderful Aida, her performance of the Nile aria is worth the viewing alone also she is heartfelt and encompasses a vast and impressive dynamic range, while Dolora Zajick demonstrates a powerful voice even if her acting is sometimes a little awkward and Paata Burchuladze is a stately Ramfis. Sherrill Milnes is good as Amonasro, he is a gifted actor and does something intelligent with his role here, particularly after his big moment when Aida is pleading with her father and there is a beautifully done facial expression mixing anger submerging into sadness and guilt. His voice is in decent shape to start with, very musical, unique(Milnes had one of the most exciting top registers of any baritone and a masterful legato line) and distinguished, but it does get tired and sags in pitch at the end I feel.
Overall though, it is a terrific production and one of the better productions I've seen of this particular opera. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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