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Verdi: Aida Box set


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Product details

  • Performer: Aprile Millo, Dolora Zajick, Plácido Domingo, James Morris
  • Orchestra: New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus, New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • Conductor: James Levine
  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
  • Audio CD (19 Jun 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Classical
  • ASIN: B000026EK8
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  DVD Audio  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,592 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Aida: Preludio
2. Aida: Act I, Scene 1: Yes, Rumour Has It That Ethiopia Dares
3. Aida: Act I, Scene 1: If I Were That Warrior!
4. Aida: Act I, Scene 1: Such Unwanted Joy
5. Aida: Act I, Scene 1: He Is Troubled
6. Aida: Act I, Scene 1: Allegro Sostenuto - Io stesso movimento
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Introduction
2. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Who Is It, Amidst Hymns And Praises
3. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Dance Of The Young Moorish Slaves
4. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Come: Let Flowers Intertwined With
5. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Silence ! Aida Comes Toward Us
6. Aida: Act II, Scene 1: Fortuna Was
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Aida: Act III: Introduction
2. Aida: Act III: Come To The Temple Of Isis
3. Aida: Act III: Radames Is Coming Here!
4. Aida: Act III: Heavens! My Father!
5. Aida: Act III: Then Come, Arise, Egyptian Cohorts
6. Aida: Act III: Pity! Pity! Father
See all 27 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 8 Aug 2014
Format: Audio CD
Franco Corelli made two commercial recordings of “Aida”: the first was for Cetra in 1956 and has been ably reviewed by my MusicWeb colleagues Göran Forsling and Calvin Goodwin. It is in good mono and sports a fine cast, but is rather similar to this live recording under review, insofar as all the singers are between good and excellent but the Radamès clearly remains the star of the show. In 1956 Corelli was in freshest voice and less inclined to grandstand but the incipient tremolo and lisp, partially remedied by study under Lauri-Volpi, are both very apparent and he had not yet begun to cultivate the famous diminuendo required by Verdi for the concluding B flat of “Celeste Aida” which was always so impressive yet might have hastened his vocal decline.

The second studio recording made ten years later in 1966 for Mehta, finds him able to produce that famous effect but also coarser and less obviously the star, being paired with the formidable Birgit Nilsson in a role which did not ideally suit her gifts.

To my ears, despite being in mono, this live Metropolitan recording from mid-way the two previously mentioned represents the ideal of Corelli’s Radamès, apart from the absence of that diminuendo on the closing note of the opening aria. He is absolutely thrilling throughout, admittedly grandstanding shamelessly on the repeated, absurdly prolonged high A’s of the “Io resto a te” at the close of Act III, but that forms an electrifying climax to the wonderfully dramatic confrontation with Irene Dalis’s desperate Amneris. I find him wholly believable as the lovestruck young warrior who refuses to compromise his honour.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Viva Verdi on 25 Mar 2014
Format: Audio CD
There are a number of great recordings of this opera, but to narrow it down, and with a definite nod towards ones of the past like the Callas/Serafin and the Tebaldi/Karajan. I think the top spot is between the Price/Solti and Caballe Muti.

One of the problems on this recording, and apologies to those involved, is that the Alldis Choir cannot carry the weight needed for Aida. The men, in particular, struggle in the triumphant scene, and let's face it - the chorus in Aida is pretty important.

This is Leontyne Price’s second recording. Her voice is still in splendid condition and she certainly gives more theatre in this edition. The problem is that just four years later and in the same location (Walthamstow Town Hall) EMI recorded one of the greatest Aidas, under Muti. Domingo’s young voice is even better, and the pacing is extraordinary.

However, staying with the positives here: we have the great Sherrill Milnes as Amonasro – the Act III encounter with Aida is terrific. Raimondi is an imposing Ramfis, and Bumbry a very good Amneris. It’s an Aida that I’m happy to own, but if you are looking for the definitive recording then the earlier Leontyne Price under Solti or the EMI with Caballe under Muti are the ones to get. If I were you I’d get both.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Arnar on 23 Jun 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought a used copy of these highlights only to hear how these famous singers sound in this revered performance. They sound excellent but listening to this opera in parts like here is not that enjoyable. This opera is very much a whole rather than a sum of the parts and does therefore not work at all as highlights. Therefore, only three stars.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Miller on 6 Feb 2014
Format: DVD Audio Verified Purchase
I read that this said in the advert that it was in DVD form I already had this cd within my own collection,
very disappointed that was not the case. poor marks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A classic recording made even better 20 Sep 2004
By P. SIMPSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Audio
This has always been a top "Aida", - just look at the cast of Caballe, Domingo et al - and the music was in Muti's blood. It also always sounded great, but could never be heard as intended on redbook because it was originally recorded in Quadrophonic sound.

Finally, thanks to DTSE, we can hear this fine recording as it was meant to be heard, in splendid surround sound. Okay, so its not DSD or 24/96, but the 20 bit transfer is still very successful and an immensely enjoyable experience.

Like the other (second) reviewer, I too cannot believe that our first reviewer would give this just one star because they didn't know what 5.1 or DTS was. The disc cover clearly states that a DTS decoder is required. To rate the discs "one" is just spiteful and reflects on the reviewer, not the discs.

Definitely five stars, a classic recording made even better.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Leontyne Price/AIDA II: And the Winner is.....YOU!!! 10 Jun 2006
By Donizetti's Kid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This particular recording of Verdi's "Aida" has provoked a great deal of discussion amongst opera-lovers and critics alike since its release in 1970. Much of the furor centered on the American operatic diva Leontyne Price, universally regarded as one of the greatest Aidas ever, and this, her 2nd recorded performance of the role. Most become mired in subjective comparisons between Ms. Price's vocalism and interpretation on the legendary Solti/ Decca "Aida" made in the '60s, and this recording, released on RCA in 1970. There is little need for such debate. "Aida" has enjoyed no greater performer of the role than Leontyne Price! Here, Ms. Price's voice has grown notably darker in color, the middle voice heavier and lusher in texture. Her lower voice has more bite (and more chest)and husk. The upper voice hasn't lost much(vibrancy),and has gained a creamier, velvety richness that yields sublime soft 'pianos'("Numi pieta"..."O Patria mia"...the Nile Scene...and "O terra,addio") and produces the 'con forza' neccessary for the climaxes in the opera. Ms. Price has stated that the key to performing this role(for her)is in recognizing that Aida is a Royal Ethiopean princess, and that attitude is prevalent in her performance here. The conception is grander, more regal, and pointed in relation to her earlier assumption with Solti. The diva uses her impressive vocal 'palette' to color the texts, illuminating the various dramatic situations expertly, no more so than in the Nile Scene where Aida must express sorrow in the aria, joy, then revulsion & terror in the duet with Amonasro, and then seduce Radames into duplicity. Ms. Price reigns supreme there, and is triumphant throughout in this recording. Comparisons be damned, Leontyne Price is unbeatable as Aida on recordings. Her Radames, tenor Placido Domingo, has recorded his role (3) times. He sings here with a youthful vitality that's appropriate for the ambitious Egyptian captain in love with Aida. Mr. Domingo's voice is darkly beautiful, with a distinct vibrancy in his middle voice that blossoms into a firm, full-bodied spinto upper voice that 'rings' on top. He's ardent in the love scenes, heroic in the climaxes, and uniquely successful at portraying Radames' vulnerability, making Aida's seduction in the Nile Scene and "Celeste Aida" more convincing than usual. Mr. Domingo's use of 'mezza voce' is never more appreciated than in "O terra addio", the opera's finale, where he & Ms. Price sing a soft, glowing "farewell" to earth that is heartbreaking. Mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry recorded the role of the Egyptian princess Amneris once before this performance. This role is one of her most famous creations, and she demonstrates the reason for such acclaim here. Ms. Bumbry's voice is sable- rich in texture, with a dark, pulsing middle voice, powerful high notes, and a deep, resonant chest voice that's singular in its beauty. 'Amneris' is a three-dimensional character in Ms. Bumbry's hands, and vocally, the mezzo-soprano is superb at presenting the crafty, volatile, passionate nature of Aida's nemesis. Ms. Bumbry's voice alternately purrs beguilingly, snarls with fury, urgently pleads, and is plaintive when the drama demands it, all on display in her Act III duet with Mr. Domingo,and the explosive Judgement Scene that follows. She is a magnificent Amneris. Baritone Sherrill Milnes added the role of Aida's father 'Amonasaro' to the stellar list of Verdi roles he's renowned for with this recording. His portrayal is also more youthful than usual, but loses none of the dignity and stature that Verdi invested in the music. Mr. Milnes uses his voluminous instrument with a musical intelligence that is largely missing in his rivals' interpretations. His singing is nuanced, purposeful, & incisive, utilizing the strong, firmly- voiced middle to contrast with a superior upper extension, that balances his weak lower register(though not a great factor in this role). Mr. Milnes' duet with Ms. Price in the Nile Scene sizzles! The role of 'Ramphis' is intoned by basso Ruggiero Raimondi, whose vocalism is well-produced but static. (With rare exception, so are his rivals.) Maestro Erich Leinsdorf lacks the imaginative 'spark' that could have lifted this performance to definitive greatness, and instead, conducts a 'practised', thoroughly competent, and musically correct account of this GRAND opera. We are most fortunate that the cast is able to bring their own artistry & vision to the proceedings, and not be too influenced by the maestro's equanimity with the score. This recording has been re-mastered digitally, and the sonics are quite lively and true. There are indeed other more creatively- conducted performances, that feature 'Aidas' of great vocal beauty (Caballe, Milanov,Tebaldi,L.Price) & other superlative artists ( Cossotto,Simionato,Barbieri/ Bergonzi,Corelli,Tucker/ Merrill,Gobbi,Warren), but this performance has something its rivals don't: a sterling quartet of quintessential Verdians that includes 'Aida assoluta' Leontyne Price!!

NOTE:

Opera fans and critics' opinions can vary greatly at times because the Art form itself is prone to subjectivity & personal taste. However, there are certain technical and musical demands, most often created by the composer and/or "tradition" that are unavoidably objective, and with rare exception, are executed by the performers on this recording. I would urge fans and critics alike to demonstrate said 'taste' when reviewing any particular performance on this website (and elsewhere). One can disagree with an artists' output without being disrespectful, cruel, or, (far-worse) distortion, bordering on dishonesty. Love them or hate them, these performers are all artists, and merit respect- if not admiration. Basta!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A good "Aida" - but not the "ideal" one 7 Oct 2012
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first must give praise to a participant who usually gets flak - here and elsewhere: Erich Leinsdorf. Abetted by the great 1970 RCA sonics, he brings not just vividness but also great transparency and detail to the orchestra. Only reservation: for some reason the famous Act II brass Marcia sounds curiously distant, or at least not as present as you'd expect. But on top of that, I find Leinsdorf's tempi always sound, usually spot on or close to Verdi's metronome indications, and marked by a sure sense of the dramatic flow and theatrical life. No agonizing here like Karajan (Verdi: Aida) or Solti (Verdi - Aida / L. Price · Vickers · Merrill · Gorr · Opera di Roma · Solti) over the pacing of some of the recitatives, no getting bogged down in one's over-expression, no turning the opening Radames-Ramfis recitative into a some impossibly solemn prayer (the situation is of urgency, not solemnity, and High Priests in times of preparations for war do not need to be always solemn - especially when the composer's metronome mark indicates otherwise) or the Act I Amneris-Radames then Aida exchange into lazily lascivious games of seduction or cunning. Some may find (and have found) that Leinsdorf doesn't "plumb the depths" or that he remains "superficial": thank God, for a change. The risk in plumbing the depths is to remain quagmired there, and Leinsdorf never does. Only in the short orchestral introduction to the Nile scene (beginning of Act III) did I think that at Leinsdorf's relatively urgent tempo the music lacked a touch of mystery and poetry, but I checked, and Leinsdorf there is in fact a tad slower than Verdi's metronome mark. So you may have wished that he wasn't so observant of Verdi's instructions, but you can't really take him to task for doing so, and those who find that he conducts "too fast" (the same was said of Toscanini BTW) simply omit that he conducts at Verdi's tempos. I have no qualm with the interpreter bringing his own touch, and it can be enlightening. But it is unfair to criticize the one who remains true to score. If you want to know how Verdi, not Karajan or Solti, intended Aida to sound like, listen to Toscanini (Aida) or Leinsdorf.

In truth, Leinsdorf isn't always a literalist either, there are moments when he strays from Verdi's tempi. Sometimes it is like everybody else, slower, because at Verdi's surprisingly fast tempi it seems impossible to bring out the emotion, as in Aida's Act III aria "O Patria mia" or at the beginning of the tomb scene. There are also two main instances where Leinsdorf adopts markedly faster tempi than Verdi's (other than in the first act trio, but there everybody does. Audiences would be startled to hear that passage played at Verdi's metronome). He takes the big Act I chorus before "Ritorna vincitor", "Su del Nil", at a metronome of circa 100 quarter-notes/mn, to Verdi's 80. Consequently, the music isn't grandiose, majestic and solemn (as it is with Karajan for instance), even though Verdi writes "allegro maestoso". It is martial, and I find it much better suited dramatically and psychologically for a call to arms, which is what the situation and words depict. Apparently Leinsdorf doesn't like for Allegros to be "maestoso" and solemn, because on the Act II Triumphal March also (CD 2 track 7), he takes a tempo of circa 126 quarter-notes to Verdi's 100 - although he does relax back to Verdi's tempo when enter the women (1:39). But here again his martial tempos bring great energy and excitement to the music. All and all, I find Leinsdorf the best heir in modern sonics to Toscanini (of course Leinsdorf's career was launched when he was appointed assistant of Toscanini in Salzburg before the war, and he always expressed his deepest admiration for the Italian conductor).

On the other hand, I'm not so happy with the singers. This was Domingo's first studio recording of Radames (out of four - so far - if you limit yourself to purely audio recordings, the others being, by chronological order, Muti 1974 Verdi: Aida, Abbado 1981 Verdi: Aida / Abbado, Teatro alla Scala and Levine 1990 Verdi: Aida / Millo, Domingo, Zajick, Morris, Ramey; Levine) and I find that it came a little too early. The voice sounds very juvenile - sure, it is good to have a young-sounding Radames, but this is almost boyish - and not beefy and "round" enough. Other than that, it is already wonderfully valiant, firm, it cuts through the mass in the Act I and II finales, but it is also capable of wonderful nuance (particularly in his recitative at the beginning of the tomb scene and the final duet with Aida), and to that Domingo adds a fine characterization of the words sung. Still, expressively, especially in his Act III duet with Aida Domingo has a tendency to color his voice with a plaintive tone (to the point of sounding on the brink of breaking into tears at times), which may not be entirely out of situation when he sings of his despair at the idea of fleeing his own country, but it is less appropriate just before, when this Radames sounds apologetic in his explanation to Aida of how he hopes to convince the Pharaoh to grant him her hand, and paints him like a more whining and wimpish character than he needs to be. This is more Don José begging Carmen to keep him than Radames, and when, to Aida's accusation that he doesn't lover her, "tu non m'ami" (it has always struck me how similar the whole scene is to the Act II of Carmen - "non, tu ne m'aimes pas"), he responds that "no mortal or God has ever burnt with a love as strong as mine", he sounds really like a pitiful braggart.

Bumbry had already recorded the role of Amneris in 1967 with Mehta (Verdi: Aida) and I hear no deterioration of the voice. As back then, in itself I find that it is not ideally suited to the role - not mezzo-ish enough, she could almost be singing Aida - but it certainly blends well with Domingo's, and their particular combination is perfectly convincing. Her Judgment scene is finely characterized too, although the sonics let her almost be drowned by the orchestra in the fortissimos.

But it is really Leontyne Price's voice I find that does not blend very well with the two others. She too had made an earlier studio recording, and a famous one, with Solti, in 1962 (see link above). The voice has become slightly larger, thicker. She could almost be the mezzo. When you compare carefully the two recordings, you can now detect a soft raspiness in the voice, especially in the lower range, around E and F (as in the introductory recitative to her Act III Aria, "qui Radames verra", CD 3 track 3). She's also prone now to over-acting and over-expressing. Just listen to the beginning of "Ritorna vincitor", CD 1 track 1. It is so filled with intentions, with stresses every two syllables, "riTORna VIN-ciTOOOOR!" but lacks one essential quality: simplicity. Listen also how, when she sings "Numi, pieta", she "swells" her voice on "pie" (CD 1 track 12 at 0:45). That is a typical diva thing, if not a Gospel singer thing. But there lies the rub: In those moments I hear a great diva singing, not Aida. I find that such vocal "tricks" come in the way of the emotion. Callas didn't swell her voice, she downsized it (which requires great control) to convey an impression of frailty and despair. Price's Italian pronunciation has become slacker too, letting all those American diphthongs invade the Italian vowels. Curiously, she also now has a small lisp that she didn't have before (try the end of CD 1 track 10 "che dissi").

On the other hand the larger "body" of her voices enables her to find new and softer and even more beautiful nuances in some of the melodic leaps up, such as, in "Ritorna vincitor", on the words "come raggio di sol" (CD 1 track 11 at 0:33) or "a lui ch'amo tanto" (1:00). Her Act III aria "O Patria mia" is as beautiful as ever (CD 3 track 4) and the final duet with Radames offers other such beautiful moments, where she brings even more emotion than in 1962 (compare the CD's last track, the duet"s final part, "O terra addio", with the voice over soft shimmering string harmonics - the same passage also gets its individual cue in the earlier recording). Also I'm not as bothered as in 1962 by the lack of homogeneity or her registers and the chestiness of her lower one. Because the voice has become larger, and because the soft rasp has replaced the chest voice, it sounds better integrated I find.

Still, for all its beauty, I find that the voice doesn't blend ideally with the two others, it is bigger than theirs but also more diffuse, something you can hear clearly in the Act II duet with Amneris/Bumbry (CD 2 tracks 4-6), where Bumbry's is razor-sharp and (like Domingo's) cuts through the air. Also, Price's mezzo colors now lack (especially in relation to the others) a quality of childish innocence that I find essential to the character and the psychological credibility of the situations. However small the difference in coloration, when the slightly more focused and soprano-sounding Price sung against the formidable Rita Gorr and Vickers with Solti, a fine balance was established; not so here. But, despite these reservations, I hope I've made it clear that 1972 remains very beautiful.

The comprimarii range from fine (the High Priestess - granted a very minor one) to bad (the messenger - as one sharp-tongued critic once put it, he comes to announce the invasion of Egypt with petits fours and refreshments), by way of OK (Raimondi as Ramfis has the voice but lacks the lower notes in his short Act III recitative with Amneris) and indifferent (Sotin makes a characterless king). Amonasro/Sherrill Milnes is in fine and lyrical voice, but he lacks the darker hues that make the really great Amonasros, and in his Act III duet with Aida, until his "Non sei mia figilia ! Dei Faraoni tu sei schiava!" he is curiously gentle and lacking violence, hatred, spite - sure a father should be with his daughter, but it's not what you expect of the character hurling imprecations at the Egyptian's "hateful race". The John Aldiss Choir sings with strong English accents (especially perceptible in the ladies' chorus at the beginning of Act II) and sounds somewhat deficient in bass, and somewhat under-powered in the big crowd scene of the finale of Act II.

Ultimately, I find this a good, not great Aida, one that I'd rank like Mehta's, who had great singers (Nilsson Corelli Bumbry) but with techniques and/or timbres not ideally suited to their roles. I still haven't found the truly "ideal" Aida. The one that displays the most authentic Verdi conducting - Toscanini's - is sonically aged and its principals range from good to plain, those that boast the best singers - Tebaldi Bergonzi Simionato, Price Vickers Gorr, Björling Barbieri (I'm not as convinced by Milanov, Verdi: Aida) - have idiosyncratic conductors: you like what they do or you don't, but they never let you forget that it is Karajan or Solti or even Perlea you are hearing rather than Verdi. Calla is unique, even in 1955, no singer has approached her expressivity, but she comes in mono sonics and does have some vocal problems, and a Ramades - Richard Tucker, same as with Toscanini - that is good but not outstanding (Aida).

Informative liner notes, libretto with a good English translation. The three CDs are abundantly cued, not just each aria and recitatives, but at turning points into the aria as well. But strangely, the famous Marcia doesn't get its cue, it starts CD 2 track 7 at 3:15.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Second Time Around: Leontyne Price's Royal Return as AIDA - Highlights 6 Aug 2006
By Donizetti's Kid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a Highlights CD that includes the more famous musical passages and scenes - with one notable exception: the omission of the Act II Amneris/Aida duet. The electricity generated by Madames Grace Bumbry and Leontyne Price in this music is palpable, and in Ms. Bumbry's case, definitive.. Its a shame that RCA didn't prune some of the Ballet in favor of the duet. Below is a review of the complete opera release from which rthese "highlights" were culled.

This particular recording of Verdi's "Aida" has provoked a great deal of discussion amongst opera-lovers and critics alike since its release in 1970. Much of the furor centered on the American operatic diva Leontyne Price, universally regarded as one of the greatest Aidas ever, and this, her 2nd recorded performance of the role. Most become mired in subjective comparisons between Ms. Price's vocalism and interpretation on the legendary Solti/ Decca "Aida" made in the '60s, and this recording, released on RCA in 1970. There is little need for such debate. "Aida" has enjoyed no greater performer of the role than Leontyne Price! Here, Ms. Price's voice has grown notably darker in color, the middle voice heavier and lusher in texture. Her lower voice has more bite (and more chest)and husk. The upper voice hasn't lost much(vibrancy),and has gained a creamier, velvety richness that yields sublime soft 'pianos'("Numi pieta"..."O Patria mia"...the Nile Scene...and "O terra,addio") and produces the 'con forza' neccessary for the climaxes in the opera. Ms. Price has stated that the key to performing this role(for her)is in recognizing that Aida is a Royal Ethiopean princess, and that attitude is prevalent in her performance here. The conception is grander, more regal, and pointed in relation to her earlier assumption with Solti. The diva uses her impressive vocal 'palette' to color the texts, illuminating the various dramatic situations expertly, no more so than in the Nile Scene where Aida must express sorrow in the aria, joy, then revulsion & terror in the duet with Amonasro, and then seduce Radames into duplicity. Ms. Price reigns supreme there, and is triumphant throughout in this recording. Comparisons be damned, Leontyne Price is unbeatable as Aida on recordings. Her Radames, tenor Placido Domingo, has recorded his role (3) times. He sings here with a youthful vitality that's appropriate for the ambitious Egyptian captain in love with Aida. Mr. Domingo's voice is darkly beautiful, with a distinct vibrancy in his middle voice that blossoms into a firm, full-bodied spinto upper voice that 'rings' on top. He's ardent in the love scenes, heroic in the climaxes, and uniquely successful at portraying Radames' vulnerability, making Aida's seduction in the Nile Scene and "Celeste Aida" more convincing than usual. Mr. Domingo's use of 'mezza voce' is never more appreciated than in "O terra addio", the opera's finale, where he & Ms. Price sing a soft, glowing "farewell" to earth that is heartbreaking. Mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry recorded the role of the Egyptian princess Amneris once before this performance. This role is one of her most famous creations, and she demonstrates the reason for such acclaim here. Ms. Bumbry's voice is sable- rich in texture, with a dark, pulsing middle voice, powerful high notes, and a deep, resonant chest voice that's singular in its beauty. 'Amneris' is a three-dimensional character in Ms. Bumbry's hands, and vocally, the mezzo-soprano is superb at presenting the crafty, volatile, passionate nature of Aida's nemesis. Ms. Bumbry's voice alternately purrs beguilingly, snarls with fury, urgently pleads, and is plaintive when the drama demands it, all on display in her Act III duet with Mr. Domingo,and the explosive Judgement Scene that follows. She is a magnificent Amneris. Baritone Sherrill Milnes added the role of Aida's father 'Amonasaro' to the stellar list of Verdi roles he's renowned for with this recording. His portrayal is also more youthful than usual, but loses none of the dignity and stature that Verdi invested in the music. Mr. Milnes uses his voluminous instrument with a musical intelligence that is largely missing in his rivals' interpretations. His singing is nuanced, purposeful, & incisive, utilizing the strong, firmly- voiced middle to contrast with a superior upper extension, that balances his weak lower register(though not a great factor in this role). Mr. Milnes' duet with Ms. Price in the Nile Scene sizzles! The role of 'Ramphis' is intoned by basso Ruggiero Raimondi, whose vocalism is well-produced but static. (With rare exception, so are his rivals.) Maestro Erich Leinsdorf lacks the imaginative 'spark' that could have lifted this performance to definitive greatness, and instead, conducts a 'practised', thoroughly competent, and musically correct account of this GRAND opera. We are most fortunate that the cast is able to bring their own artistry & vision to the proceedings, and not be too influenced by the maestro's equanimity with the score. This recording has been re-mastered digitally, and the sonics are quite lively and true. There are indeed other more creatively- conducted performances, that feature 'Aidas' of great vocal beauty (Caballe, Milanov,Tebaldi,L.Price) & other superlative artists ( Cossotto,Simionato,Barbieri/ Bergonzi,Corelli,Tucker/ Merrill,Gobbi,Warren), but this performance has something its rivals don't: a sterling quartet of quintessential Verdians that includes 'Aida assoluta' Leontyne Price!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I love Leontyne Price!!! 16 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Leontyne Price recorded a lot of Aidas, and the best one is problably the 1963 Met recording with Bergonzi as Radames and Solti on the podium (Myto). Though, if you don't like bad sound and coughing contests, you must hate that disc-set. Then, if you want to hear the best Aida ever, you have to buy this beautiful RCA recording; Leinsdorf does a great job, although he's not the most talented conductor of the century, and Leontyne Price's singing is just as good as it gets. Listen closely to her "Ritorna vincitor!": that's what "ARTIST" means. Domingo and Bumbry show they're worth their popularity; Raimondi and Milnes complete the triumph with great performances.
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