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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Recording To Have!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Verdi: Aida (Audio CD)
There are a huge amount of recordings of this opera, usually with all star casts. The competition, therefore, is fierce but this recording stands just above rival versions. Caballe sings the title role with power and expression as well as with great beauty. The Nile scene has never been sung so movingly. Domingo is in fine heroic voice as Radames and gives a much better account than he does on other labels..... The rest of the cast are first rate too, there are no weak links. The conducting is superb, if a little on the fast side, and the re- mastering brings out all the splendour of the score. Listen to the brass in the grand march- magnificent! There are other good interpretations but they do not have the sound quality to match. If you are on a budget then the next best recording is the Solti version with Price and Vickers on Double Decca. If not, don't be put off by the price and go for a cheaper version. Save up and buy this one!
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly Aida,
If you love Verdi and great Verdi singing then this is simply not to be missed - the casting is unbelievably strong. But for this listener the one overwhelming reason to buy this set is Montserrat Caballe. I've lot count of the number of times I've played the Nile scene - it seemed miraculous the first time and seems so still. There are some things in life that one simply has to be grateful for and this is one of them.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one to have!,
I have just finished playing this excellent recording of Verdi's masterpiece, and having not listened to it in a while I'd forgotten just how good it is. So I came on here to see what others think and am glad to see the enthusiastic reviews, with which I completely agree.
I remember the performance from Covent Garden with the same forces back in the 70s - it was one of those that stood one's hair on edge (in the days when I had hair). The LPs/cassettes followed and I played them to destruction - a few years ago I saw the CDs in the HMV shop and snapped them up.
The prime attractions for many will be Domingo and Caballe and understandably so. Domingo is in fine form and his Celeste Aida is the best I have heard anywhere. He sounds fresh throughout and his act 3 duet with Aida is breathtaking, along with his thrilling "Sacerdote, io resto a te" right at the end of the act. This is one of Caballe's best performances - you simply don't get soft singing like this very often. Her big arias (Ritorna vincitor and O patria mia) are a testament to the beauty of the human voice at its best. Both singers actually play the roles - unlike many stars in recordings, they don't just go through the motions and make nice noises, you really believe in them as characters.
Of the excellent supporting cast, Fiorenza Cossotto's Amneris is particularly noteworthy. She sings with power and tenderness where appropriate, and always with intelligence. You realise that Amneris is really quite a decent sort after all. Particularly moving is her pleas to the priests for Radames's forgiveness in Act 4 Scene 1.
Muti proves the ideal Verdi conductor. With his Philharmonia forces, the orchestral playing is a revelation, yet not intrusive in the "conductor's opera" way that you sometimes find with Karajan, Bernstein and later Sinopoli. The set pieces - e.g. the triumphal scene - are predictably exciting, yet there is real subtlety and beauty where needed, particularly in the prelude and last scene.
The recording is stunning - why don't they make them like that now? There is a sense of space and scale - you "get" the offstage choruses and brass - and all instruments and voices can be heard in balance without any obvious artificial miking.
Strongly recommended, and if you're tempted, get it now - EMI have no loyalty to their catalogue as like many recording companies, accountants are apparently in charge when it comes to classical music.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A special recording,
There are so many good recordings of "Aida" available and I own - and play - eight of them, but I keep coming back to this one as my favourite. This might partly be for purely personal reasons: it was one of the first sets I bought when as a nineteen year old I was just discovering opera and I still recall the sense of transported wonder I first experienced listening to that magical, moonlit Nile music; then just after that I was able to hear most of the artists on this recording live at Covent Garden and that cemented my preference for this version. Even though Caballe did not much look the part of a lissom Ethiopian princess, her voice did all the work as she spun those delicate pianissimi to every corner of the auditorium. And those almost unearthly high notes, sung "con un fil di voce" are still the chief glory of this set, despite all its other merits. Domingo is here more animated and richer voiced than in almost any other of his recordings and the supporting cast is very fine, even if Cappuccilli, for all his long-breathed eloquence, cannot match Gobbi for nuance. Cappuccilli could at times be a lazy singer who simply went through the motions, but Muti's taut, detailed direction clearly inspired him here. Cossotto produces precisely the kind of searing tour de force I recall so vividly from the live performance; she is anguished and terrifying in her rage and grief. Ghiaurov is sonorous, grave and implacable as the High Priest; Roni sturdy and regal as the King.
It is true that Caballe is not really entirely vocally suited to the eponymous leading role - it is a little big for her and she is occasionally clearly stretched at the grandest moments - but her artistry and commitment are such that she makes you believe she is right for it. The orchestra play with both power and delicacy for Muti who skilfully balances the intimate sections of the score against the massive exaltation of the crowd scenes. I like other sets very much, too, such as Price's later one with Leinsdorf and the earlier Tebaldi (see my review), but this is the best in a crowded field - and it's in superior sound, too.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HYPERBOLICAL AND GRANDIOSE,
That was how Shaw characterised Verdi, bracketing him with Victor Hugo. Shaw also sensed a falling-off in spontaneity in Aida,its place being taken by increasing sophistication. I doubt if he would have had such reservations if he had heard this tremendous performance, one of the most thrilling you will ever hear. To get it going, Domingo's Celeste Aida is, well, celestial, and he is in superb voice throughout. Caballe sings like an angel from paradise. I remember her interviewed on TV by Bernard Levin years ago, and she almost winced as she said 'For Verdi you need so much VOICE'. There is no doubt about it, Verdi's demands on the human voice are inhuman, and I was lost in admiration at the entire cast and their majestic response to the whole wonderful but monstrous challenge set to them. At least one thing is simple in Aida and that is the plot-line, which makes a nice change compared with, say, Trovatore, and the characters, strongly drawn though they are both by Ghislanzoni and the composer, are not complex like Rigoletto or Iago.
I suspect that singers who can surmount the musical challenge as triumphantly as these do just find that they are acting superbly as well. The conducting helps just a little of course. Verdi's orchestral conception has now advanced beyond the 'big guitar' stage and the sumptuous sound Muti obtains and the strong forward thrust of his tempi creats an enthralling sense of grandeur. I had to listen to this Aida without interruption, just carried along by the sheer power of it. Loss of spontaneity? -- not a bit of it. The Requiem was still to come, and nobody has ever found any loss of spontaneity in that. For all the heartbreaking tenderness and pathos the final impression left is of an overpowering drama.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't be much better,
This recording is the best Aida recording ever. All the singers are giving their best and they are perfect in their roles. There are some superb singing, for example the pianissimi delivered by Caballé.
Muti is giving a new fresh vitality to the music. A bit faster than most others, but always true to the music and to the drama.
5.0 out of 5 stars The runner-up, just,
A rip-roaring performance and, for me, it fights in top spot with the Leontyne Price/Solti recording. Muti and Solti both knew that Aida requires power at times and the Act III duet between Aida and Amonasro is the litmus test.
One stand-out moment, in that duet, that really impressed me is the way Muti accentuates the violins (Tosca-like), underpinning Aida's distress when put under pressure by her father. They sting, they get loader and they intensify the drama. You might think that is an odd thing to highlight but wait until you hear it. Fantastic.
The pace of this interpretation is great, but I still think the Price/Solti recording nudges into top spot. The Rome Opera Chorus have the weight and power over the Royal Opera. Leontyne Price and Robert Merrill, supported by Solti, give the wonderful Act III duet that bit more intensity (notwithstanding the point I made above). Domingo has undoubtedly a more beautiful voice that Vickers, but Vickers is the warrior. Cossotto gives one of the greatest performances as Amneris, but Gorr's tone is the more attractive. Caballe has more control of her voice (amazing breath control), but Price has a quality of theatre in her voice, and a warmer tone that does it for me.
In summary, I think every Verdi lover has to have both recordings.
5.0 out of 5 stars For me this remains the most beautiful reading of Aida on disc,
This is the most beautiful recording of this operaI know on CD, especially because of Caballe's very beautifully voiced Aida. The young Domingo is marvellous throughout as Radames. Cossotto is formidable: cross her at your peril! Muti conducts a passionately imaginative reading and the orchestra are superb. The sound is warm, beautifully detailed and balanced. I can understand why for many this will be a first choice, as it remains mine, ever since I bought the original LPs as a teenager. Solti's fiery account sits on my shelves being notable for dramatic intensity as is the second Karajan reading, but it is the intense beauty of the Muti set that I think of first and foremost, yet it is as dramatically convincing as it is beautifully sung and played.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verdi's Aida from EMI,
Never been to an opera and know nought about them. So was delighted when I opened the package and found 3 Cds and a booklet. Playing the CDs and following the story in the booklet was just what I needed. Great music and voices with a tale I could follow: Sorted.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verdi's Aida conducted by Riccardo Muti,
This is an excellent three CD recording of Aida featuring Placido Domingo and Montserrat Caballe.
The strength of this edition is the inclusion of an excellent booklet containing a Synopsis of the opera Act by Act, Scene by Scene and then a verbatim transcript in Italian, French, German and English with high standard translations.
It greatly adds to the understanding and enjoyment of the top quality recording.
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