The Metropolitan Opera Presents: Season 9, Episode 2

Aida (3 Jan. 1985)
"Live from the Metropolitan Opera" Aida (original title)

TV Episode  -  Music
9.3
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Title: Aida (03 Jan 1985)

Aida (03 Jan 1985) on IMDb 9.3/10

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Fiorenza Cossotto ...
Simon Estes ...
James McCracken ...
Leontyne Price ...
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3 January 1985 (USA)  »

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An emotional night at the opera...
21 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

What an amazing Aida. And I thought the 1989 Met production was great, and it is still is. This Aida is phenomenal, and my favourite not just for the singing and the fact it was Leontyne Price as Aida but also for how emotional it all was. This wasn't just any performance of Price in this role, it is special because not only is Aida her best role(in my opinion) but this performance in particular was a testament to her whole career.

Price is just stunning here, proving why she is my favourite Aida of all time, even more so than Tebaldi and Millo, who I also love as Aida. This is perhaps not the very best I've heard her and she sang Aida a little better under Leinsdorf and Solti where she was in prime, with some of the diction a tad heavy, but the rich, creamy tone of her voice is there, as well as the sincerity of her acting and her ability to feel every word, note and phrase. O Patria Mia is by far the best rendition of the production because of all this, with Rittorna Vincitor not far off.

The rest of the singing is great too, especially from Fiorenza Cossotto as Amneris, the juiciest character of the entire opera, one of my favourites along with Stignani, Dimitrova and Bumbry(Zajick and Tocyzska are very good too). Her singing with powerful chest notes and a thrilling high register(even if that register of the voice is not as showy as Azucena or Eboli) is wonderful, her technique among the best of any mezzo soprano and she clearly relishes the role of the unrelenting and imperious Princess especially in the Judgement Scene. One of her best roles alongside Azucena, Santuzza and the Princess from Adriana Lecouvreur, that's for sure.

Also great is Simon Estes, who makes for a powerful Amonasro, with his best moment being at the end of act 2. He has a superbly projected voice, that is used with good legato and sense of rhythm, and he is much more exciting and surprisingly less underpowered than he was in the 1981 performance in his big moment during Ciel Mio Padre.He manages also to cut a benevolent and firm figure on stage. He is not as splendid as Guelfi(GianGiacomo), Taddei or MacNeil, as beautifully sung as Merrill or Warren or as musical as Milnes or Pons, but he is generally more exciting in this role than Cappuccilli(who I love by the way) and doesn't sound like a pushed up bass trying to sound too much like Wotan like Morris.

James MacCracken was an under-appreciated tenor, and here he sounds like a tornado and acts with intensity, heroism and passion. The end of act 2 did see him off pitch and a tad too unmusical, but he is wonderful in act 3 particularly with the phrase "il Ciel De Nostri Amori! Come Scordar Potrem...", Celeste Aida is wonderfully heroic almost recalling a thrilling rendition of Di Quella Pira in the early 70s and the final scene with him and Price is a truly poignant rendition of one of Verdi's best moments.

The King and Ramfis are distinguished enough, if not quite as impressive as the other four. The chorus are superb, with the Grand March a knockout, and the choreography is efficient and beautifully danced, not inept or dull like the choreography for the 1985 and 1994 productions were. The music alone is enough to make Aida one of Verdi's finest operas, what with highlights such as Celeste Aida, Grand March, O Patria Mia, Ciel Mio Padre and the Judgement Scene, and it is performed with power and musicality by the orchestra and while the end of act 2 is taken a little too slow for my tastes James Levine's conducting is very impressive.

Costumes and sets are very good, Price's glittering number is very flattering and looks wonderful on her. The sound is generally fine as well, however the picture quality was a let down at times especially in the Triumphal scene where it is all fuzzy. The duet between Price and Cossotto and the Judgement Scene fared far better though. Overall, a superb performance, and an emotional one as well. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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