Aida is one of my favourite Verdi operas, mainly for the dramatically powerful story and the magnificent music. I do prefer the 1989 Met production and to a lesser extent the 1985 La Scala production even with their flaws, the former with a vocally tired Sherrill Milnes and the latter with some costumes that looked as though they belonged in another opera.
Back to this production, it is flawed but good. The story and music are superb, the orchestra and conducting are spot on, the staging is imaginative and the choreography in the ballet is suitably intricate. However, while the final scene was moving, and Celeste Aida and O Patria Mia nicely understated, some of Act 3 felt slightly undercooked dramatically, Amonasro's big moment was fine but the part where Aida and Amonasro try to persuade Rhadames to go with them lacked urgency.
Visually, the production is spectacular, if sometimes marred by some distracting video directing like in the Grand March. The sets are wonderfully grand and lavish, and the costumes, although Rhadames doesn't come across as a noble hero costume-wise, he came across as more of a prophet, but I don't know really. The performances are good on the whole. Roberto Alagna starts off strained with I agree his phrasing lacking support in that nightmare-to-sing Celeste Aida, but he gets better and more comfortable. Violetta Urmana is fine as Aida, her acting is heartfelt and her voice is well projected.
Carlo Guelfi is an in general impressive Amonasro. His big moment in Act 3 especially has a cracking and very exciting tempo and he puts a lot of energy and gusto into the vocal expression. And his acting is suitably intelligent throughout. Giorgio Giusseppini is noble and powerful as Ramfis, but for me top honours go to the Amneris of the production Ildiko Komlosi, whose voice is both beautiful and quite large and whose acting is strong.
In conclusion, a good production albeit a flawed one. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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