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Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro [DVD] [1998] [2001]

Luciano Pavarotti , Margaret Price    Exempt   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £8.78 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro [DVD] [1998] [2001] + Otello: A Film By Franco Zeffirelli [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Luciano Pavarotti, Margaret Price
  • Producers: San Francisco Opera
  • Format: PAL, Colour
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: NVC Arts
  • DVD Release Date: 11 May 1998
  • Run Time: 163 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000069D4L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,507 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



This spectacular 1981 San Francisco production of Aida, directed by Sam Wanamaker, boasts production values more commonly associated with Hollywood to portray scenes from the time of the Pharaohs, notably a striking interior for the temple of Vulcan from where Radames is sent forth on his mission to conquer the invading Ethiopian army. With Margaret Price in the title role and Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, there is much going for this version, both musically and visually.

Price and Pavarotti are in superb voice throughout. Pavarotti sings his initial aria, "Celeste Aida", very much as a showpiece, ignoring Verdi's quadruple pianissimo ending for the very opposite, milking (dare one say it) the audience for a thunderous round of applause which he duly receives! Initial doubts about his commitment to the drama, however, are dispelled in Act 3 when he denies Amneris his hand and bids farewell to life entombed in the same temple from where he'd once been sent forth as conqueror. Margaret Price may not be a natural actress but her singing throughout, particularly in the concluding farewell with Pavarotti ("O terra, addio"), is very touching. Stefania Toczyska is a compelling Amneris and no more so than when she's offering Radames a lifeline at the start of the last act. With assured conducting from Garcia Navarro, this Aida is a very desirable acquisition.

On the DVD Aida on disc has both subtitles and surtitles, depending on the picture image, in the main European languages. Brian Large's direction for video homes in on the salient points of the drama and also picks up on an uncomfortable looking extra or two in the "Grand March" where space on stage seems at a premium. The picture quality and sound are satisfactory.--Adrian Edwards

Product Description

WEA 398422366; WEA ITALIANA - Italia; Classica Lirica

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By 221b
Whilst the grandeur of Ancient Egyptian architecture may have dominated the lives of the Egyptians, the sets for this production from San Francisco dwarf the singers and are a little distracting - pillars keep sliding around between scene changes! It probably looked better live in the theatre, but the spectacle tends to oppress the singers into giving decent musical performances but pretty ropey dramatic ones. I'm a great fan of Margaret Price's creamy velvet voice, but her 'acting' in this production is terribly disappointing, she doesn't look too confident with the direction, but yet manages to sing with ravishing beauty despite all the distractions around her. Pavarotti does what he does best, he stands and delivers a strong performance in his more youthful voice (recorded in 1981). Toczyska took a while to grow on me as Amneris, and it was only in the last act that I really began to enjoy her performance. Throughout, the production is terribly traditional almost to the point of dullness, the characterisations come across very much as cardboard cut-outs - but shut your eyes and enjoy some fabulous singing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GLORIOUS MARGARET PRICE! 21 Mar 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent DVD of Verdi's glorious opera. I bought it mainly to hear once again the superb voice of Margaret Price who does not dissapoint. For that matter neither does Pavarotti who is in terrific form.The whole production by Sam Wanamaker is very fine indeed and I cannot praise the production enough. Verdi enthusiasts should love this superb version of the opera which is an Aida to remember.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular and musically brilliant 4 Mar 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This Aida has one of the most spectacular and lavish Triumphal March scenes that I have ever seen - not really surprising from San Francisco Opera, it is what one would expect from them and they certainly deliver. Coupled to the monumental sets this is a truly impressive visual production. Its greatest strength, however, lies in its cast. Four great singers provide a musical feast. Margaret Price is supreme in the beauty of her singing as Aida, Pavarotti is at his finest as Radames, Simon Estes is just magnificent as Amonasro and Stefania Tocsyska is fascinating as Amneris, vocally excellent but presenting a strikingly different character to the usual, statuesque and imposing she portrays an intelligent and cunning woman, a true schemer. I agree with the previous reviewer that neither Price nor Pavarotti are great actors, but there is nonetheless a truth in their performances, especially when they are together. In the final analysis, with such lovely singing, I am happy to ignore any acting defects. Tocsyska and Estes are excellent actors so this performance is not at all wooden and has plenty of drama.

The huge moving columns are sometimes a bit distracting but they do form believable settings for the action. With an excellent orchestra and chorus this is the type of Aida one wishes to see, but in my experience opera houses so often disappoint with their productions, either having one or more unsatisfactory singers or merely skimping on the lavishness of the production. This performance from San Francisco scores highly on both aspects and is my favourite production of all those that I have seen so far. I now also have the highly praised Metropolitan Opera DVD of this opera and good as that is, it does not match this one for sheer quality of singing, especially as the Metropolitan production has a much less satisfactory Amonasro than the almost ideal Simon Estes in this San Francisco production.
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