1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A very good Aida, if not completely great
TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
16 November 2011
As a lifelong fan of Verdi, Aida, opera and also of Placido Domingo,
Nicolai Ghiaurov and Mirella Freni, I saw this 1987 performance. The
1989 Met production is still my favourite of all the Aidas I've seen,
however this production elevated to a higher level by the great cast is
Verdi's Aida to me is one of his best, the story is dramatically
compelling, the characters especially Amneris are among the most
memorable of any of Verdi's operas in a list that includes King
Phillip, Violetta, Otello, Iago, Rigoletto, Azucena, Simon Boccanegra
and Aida and the music particularly Celeste Aida, The Grand March, O
Patria Mia, the duet between Aida and Amonasro, the Judgment scene and
the final scene between Aida and Rhadames is magnificent.
This production is very good. My only real complaints are the
occasionally fuzzy sound and Domingo's awful costume, it was almost as
if the costume designers had run out of material for his skirt. The
picture quality is good however even with the odd grainy moment, and
the camera work is cleverly done.
When it comes to the costumes, apart from Domingo's, they are generally
fine, Amneris especially looks regal. From a musical point of view, the
production also succeeds. Throughout the orchestra play with power and
authority and the conducting is never too rushed or plodding.
I also wish to mention the chorus and the choreography. The chorus sing
with a vibrant and well balanced sound and move ably across the stage.
Choreographically, the Grand March is suitably stately and the ballet
is beautifully choreographed, having seen productions where this scene
is not as successful as it should be I was very impressed really.
Excellent singing too. Mirella Freni has always been one of my
favourites, especially for her alluring personality, beautiful voice
and musicianship. In regard to the latter, the most musical sopranos to
me are Freni, Caballe, Devia, Tebaldi and Price(the last one is my
favourite Aida). Freni mayn't be my idea of Aida, I did worry that the
role would be too heavy. But no, while there is some slight harshness
in the singing, it is a very musical and overall vocally beautiful
performance and her acting in O Patria Mia is very heartfelt.
Like Freni, Placido Domingo is also one of my favourites. Dramatically
he is very heroic and dramatically intense, coming from a role that I
often find bland dramatically that was a big bonus. His voice has by
now adopted a baritonal quality to it and some of the high notes show
signs of strain particularly in act 3. As for the nightmare to sing
that is Celeste Aida, this is the best I've heard him sing it, the
musicality is outstanding and of the four or so times I've heard him
sing Rhadames this rendition shows the high B flats at their most free.
Throughout he uses the voice musically especially the sublime mezza
voce during Celeste Aida, and his chemistry with Freni is evident
especially in the poignant final scene.
I have remarked more than once that Ingvar Wixell's voice mayn't appeal
to all. I can understand why some may find the tone rather dry. I
happen to think it is a good voice that is used with firm dramatic
skill. But what makes me quite like Wixell is his acting, as an actor
he is outstanding, always making an effort to embody the character he's
performing. His Amonasro is no exception, it is a powerful performance.
Nicolai Ghiaurov was a simply amazing bass. He had a great personality
whether on or off stage, he was always effective live and on recording
and his voice had such velvety warmth and elegant legato to it. He here
makes for a noble Ramfis and one of the better and less static ones
I've seen in the role alongside Lloyd, Ghiuselev and Burchuladze.
Vocally the legato is still there and the size and musicality even if
the voice is lacking a tad in the warmth he had in the 60s.
David Langan is a vocally sturdy and acting-wise imposing King, if
perhaps the weakest of the principals. Now that is not to say he is not
good, just that the cast is so wonderful and if there was someone who I
would deem as least favourite of this great cast it would be Langan.
To me though, Stefania Toczyska as Amneris is the main draw of this
Aida. Her high notes are ringing and creamy and her chest voice is
hefty and of a haunting quality, when I hear Toczyska sing this role I
hear not Toczyska but Amneris. She is a compelling presence on stage
too, no awkwardness in sight. The judgement scene is perhaps Amneris's
meatiest moment of the entire opera, and she performs it with relish
All in all, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
Add another review