"The Metropolitan Opera Presents" Aida (TV Episode 1989) Poster

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The best version of Aida you can find on DVD
debblyst6 November 2003
Aida is my favorite Verdi opera. The music is stunning, with bold dives into modalism, the orchestral palette goes from minimalism to incredibly powerful tutti, the melodies are glorious. Dramatically it's a knockout: conflict from the first to the last note, with romance, intrigue, war, betrayal, guilt, love, power, religion -- the action is always flowing and the characters go through a wide emotional (and vocal) range. The opera's structure is in itself a triumph of reverse expectations, having two initial mega ensemble acts followed by two highly intimate and emotionally heart-wrenching final acts. Acts III and IV could very well be the summit of 19th Italian opera; act IV, especially, is a theatrical stroke of genius, having the suspenseful interrogation of Radames take place backstage, leaving only Amneris' reactions and the magnificent music on stage. The libretto and the music are so organically intertwined they seem to have been created simultaneously (of course they weren't).

In this performance at the NY Met, conducted by the always reliable James Levine, Aprile Millo was nothing short of inspired. Her performance is really heartfelt, her voice in full glory, with wonderful dynamics (including a couple of breathtaking pianissimi); she knows every nuance of her part and seems born to play Aida (even if Leontine Pryce had the perfect physique and Caballé's 1972 studio performance of Aida was simply vocal perfection).

Great Plácido Domingo, unfortunately, was not in top vocal shape in this performance, especially in the first act (he undeniably disappoints in that nightmare of all tenors, the I've- not-even-properly-gone-onstage-and-already-have-to-sing "Celeste Aida"), and he uncharacteristically lets the effort show. But he gets better along the way and by the time of the final duet in Act IV his voice is its usual powerhouse great. And he's such an extraordinary singer and actor anyway - what other major opera star has played Radames with such a combination of heroism, understanding of the role, masterful acting, and appropriate physique?

Chubby-faced Dolora Zajick is an awkward actress, but her voice is so powerful and her role so good, one forgets about it. Only Milnes is below par here, his voice a little tired, though he manages the acting with intelligence and brio.

The décors and costumes are simply eye-boggling (and far from tacky), just what you'd expect from a top performance of the most grandiose Italian opera of them all in the wealthiest opera house of them all. Sit back and enjoy! This is one DVD to purchase and see many times.
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Aida is perhaps the most specatacular Verdi opera.
emurray-229 July 2002
The cast of singers could not be better: Placido Domingo is Radames; Aprile Millo sings well in the difficult role of Aida; Dolora Zajick is a good Amneris; and Sherrill Milnes makes a fine Amonasro.

The sets are visually beautiful as they should be.

You will enjoy this production of Aida. I have it on laser disc.
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The best one Drama of all version of "Aida",and the peak performance of Domingo
EisenWang26 April 2003
The best one Drama of all version of "Aida",and the peak performance of Domingo. The effect were shock even after 12 years listening. The genius musician Verdi's greatest work and the best singer Domingo ¡ª¡ª means perfect.
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The Nile, The Pyamids, and Buried Alive In A Tomb
joseph95200130 June 2006
When I was a teenager, here in Cincinnati, Ohio, we had our Opera in the Cincinnati Zoo and it was billed as "Opera Under The Stars" and everyone from all over the world came to experience our Opera outdoors. The first Opera I saw as a teenager was "Aida" and then later in the season a rousing version of "The Merry Widow" where the opera performers let down their hair, showed off shamelessly, and at the end, the opera snobs stood to their feet cheering! Fauso Cleva was the conductor at all the operas. I had always been fascinated by anything Egyptian and despite my music teacher advising me to see a lighter opera for my first time; I refused. For some reason I just had to see Aida. So, to know what the story was all about, I studied the opera before seeing it. You could still obtain the original N.B.C. recording by Toscanini with his protégé Herva Nelli singing Aida, and low and behold, who do you think sang Aida at my first viewing and first opera? You got it! Herva Nelli, but at that time, the form divine didn't fit the form that appeared on stage. Ms. Nelli was very much overweight and my music teacher didn't think I was very funny when I said, "No wonder they buried her in a tomb at the end! Who would want something that looked like that to live!" My music teacher was not amused! The fascinating thing about Aida is that when Verdi's Aida was first performed, he was accused of copying the way Wagner composed music, and another thing is that there is no melody in the score to keep the singers on track. Everything is sung to music without a melody and it's very hard to keep singing in the key and keep in pitch that the music is written in. Very difficult unless you're a trained singer, and when you think of it; there are two opera's in Aida and could be played as two separate opera's. The second half could easily be called Amnerus, and speaking of the old gal; no one has ever played her part correctly in all the years that I've seen the opera or heard in on recording. Amneris at the end should be totally freaked out and having a complete nervous breakdown. Yelling and screaming! Blood, thunder and guts all over the stage even to the point of rolling on the stage in her breakdown because the man she loves is going to die of suffocation with her arch rival Aida whom she hates with all the hateful passion that she can muster up in her insanity! As far as Delores Zajick is concerned; at the end when she should be completely out of it, there's one place where she looks like she's sputtering and ready to do an imitation of Shirley Temple, looking at one of the Priest's and singing, "You're a very bad man!" But, for my money, the best Aida of all time was Renata Tebaldi! So, the production is great except for those silly skirts that the male dancers are wearing in the Triumph Scene. In other versions of this opera the mens dancing costumes - well, let's say, they might as well be wearing band aids, but I would like to see the tempo of the music a little faster and see the opera performers ham it up and have fun performing this wonderful opera to the point that it could be called a Classic Camp Opera! Everone is just too stiff and refeened! Yes, I spelled it right - refeened!
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One of the better productions I've seen of Aida
TheLittleSongbird23 February 2011
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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