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Verdi: Aida -- Zeffirelli [DVD] [2011]

Franco Zeffirelli    Exempt   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Directors: Franco Zeffirelli
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Tdk Mediactive
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Dec 2001
  • Run Time: 188 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QJGB
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,797 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



This 2001 production of Aida was mounted in Busseto, near to Verdi’s birthplace to mark the opening of his centenary year (1813-1901). The cast of young singers, all at the start of their careers, were directed by veteran Franco Zeffirelli and coached by the great Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi. It’s a handsome production, in period, with striking sets and costumes, beautifully caught on camera, mounted in the relative intimacy of the theatre which bears the composer’s name.

Aida is a difficult opera to stage. No other mainstream work combines the features of grand opera, parades and large crowd scenes with intimate exchanges between the main characters--the slave Aida, her father Amonasro, King of Ethiopia, Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt and Radames, Captain of the Egyptian guards who loves Amneris and Aida. Here the home viewer can follow the machinations of the plot close up as well as witnessing the spectacle, though like most modern stagings there are no animals on parade (in fact this production makes a sizeable musical cut in this biggest of ensembles and elsewhere a short dance is omitted). The young cast show some inexperience in their acting, some gestures are overdone, others look a trifle wooden, but the singing is of a remarkably high standard led by the Aida of Adina Aaron who grows into her role, vocally speaking, and in moments of contemplation produces some very beautiful singing. Her Radames (Paolo Pecchioli) has the looks and physique for the part with lungs to match. Amneris (Kate Aldrich) also possesses winning looks, so it’s something of a shame that her costume hides these attributes.

On the DVD: The "making of" feature focuses on Zeffirelli, speaking in Italian and English, exhorting his singers to explore their characters and motives to the extent that we hear not a word from other members of the production team, which in the case of Bergonzi is a great shame. The secure playing of the orchestra of the Arturo Toscanini foundation under the firm baton of Massimiliano Stefanelli comes up well in the Dolby Digital or DTS sound options, while the video direction makes the most of the setting. No one looking for a traditional staging of Aida will be disappointed with this two-disc set.--Adrian Edwards

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dynamic Aida 15 Jan 2005
I have seen productions of Aida before, but never one as dynamic and moving as this. The sets are superb and the choreography excellent.
Zefirelli has avoided the production's commonest fault, that of massed and static choruses that, whilst being grandiose, result in a flat and frankly dull experience for the audience. This production oozes emotion, with a cast admirably suited to each role.
The audio is clear and distinct, with every principle voice being discernable even in the massed choruses.
At one point, the audience response nearly reduced Radamese to tears. I'm not surprised.
I rented the DVD from Amazon, having been disappointed by productions in the past. This one I shall buy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believable and refreshing 18 Jun 2002
This is quite a traditional production, but I liked the authenticity of the decoration and costumes. It is another example of Zeffirelli following the maestro grande Visconti. The singing is superb, and the cast is indeed all in their 20's. Which makes it a more passionate and believable than usual, when the same roles are played by middle-aged, obese singers. It is amazing how well the young singers sing now - it makes many famous names pale when compared to these virtually unknown actors. What a pity! The theater itself is very small, including the stage, and the staging is very artfully done, it looks like it is inside a pyramid. This performance is highly recommended. It is regrettable that it is not available in USA.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 22 Nov 2002
I love Aida and this is the best version on video available so far. I have seen the San Francisco, Met, Covent Garden, Arena di Verona and La Scala videos and this beats all of them. It is true that the Met version and the Scala version have also good points, but thanks to the young trio of main characters this version becomes refreshing and thoroughly believable. The sound and picture is excellent and there are so many close-up camera takings throughout the video that you feel more intimacy than never before. This production is not perfect, indeed, and I would have preferred more experienced singing and acting for the Amonasro and the Egyptian King roles (and older looks too), however this is not a big flaw. There are some cuts on the opera, and the whole ballet in the Triumphal Scene is missing, still this does not damage the performance that retains its grandeur and brilliance. I sincerely believe that every truly opera lover will find this video exciting and fully rewarding.
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