Aida is one of my favourite Verdi operas, and one of my favourites in general. When it comes to productions, I loved the 1989 Met production best of all. This Aida is not terrible per se, but it was the one that least impressed me, if we are not counting the 1953 film with Sophia Loren.
I will say that visually it is very classy, with some of the most sumptuous sets and authentic costuming of any Aida I've seen. Picture quality, camera work and sound are generally good. The conducting is suitably authoritative and the chorus work is balanced well.
This was a prime example of an opera where the support cast were better than the leads. Faring best is Carlo Striuli, who is an outstanding Il Re. Dolora Zajick is very fine as Amneris especially in the Judgment Scene which she sings and acts with relish, Juan Pons is a powerful Amonasro and Nicola Ghiuselev is excellent and never too static as Ramfis.
Unfortunately, the Rhadames of Kristjan Johansson is second-rate. He does show a good voice in the lyric passages, but his high notes have a rather bawling quality to them. His acting is also very wooden, and his unheroic and very strained Celeste Aida makes it all too obvious that that aria is such a nightmare to sing. I didn't think much of Maria Chiara as Aida either, she has some sincere acting(though she did need to stay in character much longer than she did after singing O Patria Mia), but her voice sounds very worn and she and Johansson don't have much chemistry together.
The orchestra gets better once the production gets going, but at the start especially in the prelude their intonation is at best faulty. The choreography for the Grand March isn't inept or bad as such, just rather on the dull side.
All in all, rather disappointing and my least favourite production of such a great opera. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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