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4.7 out of 5 stars21
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 May 2011
I've ploughed through many of the studio recordings of Aida (both Cetra recordings, both Tebaldi recordings, the Callas, the Milanov, the Nilsson and the classic Caballe/Muti) but this is the one that holds the top notch.

Leontyne Price's voice is young and sweet. Vickers was a strange choice, given who was knocking around, but he is undeniably an heroic Radames. Gorr is absolutely superb (why she was not dragged into the recording studio more I'll never know) and Merrill is warm and rich in tone, but Solti is the star. He draws a huge sound from the Rome Opera Orchestra, though I also have to give credit to Giuseppe Conca for the sound that the chorus produce - the bass priests' honeyed tones are beautiful.

Price and Merrill fighting it out in act III is one of my all-time favourite moments of recorded opera. Many people would, understandably, suggest the Caballe/Muti recording but please at least try this one first - I love it.
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on 29 April 2002
A non-Italian 'Aida' that ranks head and shoulders above many of its competitors, this is a performance to cherish. Solti's grip on the orchestra is total and he presents an atmospheric and urgent interpretation of the opera. The end of Act 1 scene 2 is electric with religious fervour.There, Vickers rides the full orchestra with ease and elsewhere is a committed and moving Radames - not everyone's favourite tenor maybe but an artist of blazing intensity. Price builds her part through mostly vocal means, and what a voice it was - controlled and secure throughout its range with a distinctive smoky timbre that is perfectly appropriate to the role. Gorr is excellent also as the vengeful Amneris though I miss the use of chest register to emphasis the drama. Merrill is his usual self - rich toned and rather faceless. He also spoils a vital line in the Nile scene by snatching a breath in the wrong place. Nearly perfect and as good as we have any right to expect. Buy it!
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on 14 May 2011
From the very first notes of this `Aida', one feels the hand of a master on the baton. Solti sees the grand picture of Verdi's imagination in this opera and presents it to us with superb skill and control. Like several of Verdi's operas, `Aida' presents personal relationships against a background of political problems and Solti manages both the intimate personal dialogue and the grand scenes of military triumph with equal understanding.

This recording is exceptionally well cast, with very competent singers in the secondary roles. Giorgio Tozzi makes a compelling Ramfis and Plinio Ciabassi and Mietta Sighele do well with the rather limited material they have as the King and the High Priestess.

The main strength of the performance, however, lies, as it must, in the four principals. I always regret the brevity of the role of Amonasro, especially when it is sung by a baritone of the quality of Robert Merrill. He is never less than highly competent and at his best, as he is in `Ma tu Re, tu signore possente', he is magnificent. Rita Gorr is an affecting Amneris and brings out the frustration and disappointment of the princess. She has all the notes for this demanding role and, in my view, her vibrato underlines the vulnerability which underlies Amneris's forcefulness.

Jon Vickers, always a powerful performer, brings out the essential virility of Radames in the early scenes and gives us a particularly effective `Celeste Aida', He also succeeds in conveying his character's distress and shame when he realises that his love for Aida has led him to betray his country. He meets his death with dignified acceptance. In my view, only Franco Corelli gives a more satisfying rendition of this role.

In the title role Leontyne Price gives one of her best recorded performances. She is always the princess, even in subjection, and her two main arias `Ritorna vincitor' and `O patria mia' demonstrate the range of her vocal characterisation. There is effective use of the chest register to convey anger in the former aria and an incredibly beautiful top C in the latter, where the controlled diminuendo conveys exquisitely her grief that she will never see her homeland again.

Of my three recordings of this opera, I always feel when I hear this one that it is my favourite, especially in the final duet, which never fails to bring tears to my eyes, something which Tebaldi and Bergonzi and even Nilsson and Corelli fail to achieve.
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on 30 August 2011
I last heard this recording more than 25 years ago. Then on vinyl with a touch of hardness to the presentation especially to the brass - typical Decca sound of the period. Today on CD the hardness seems to have increased bringing a brashness to the sound that makes me reach for the treble control. However the artists are superb the singing sublime and the overall performance a historical masterpiece! Recording 5 out of 10, Performance 10 out of 10.
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This is one of the most imaginatively conducted, powerfully sung, and thrillingly performed versions. All of the principals are stunning and dramatically convincing. I simply don't know where to begin to give examples of why this fiery version is so overwhelming. Probably the tense first moment where near the start we encounter Price, Vickers and Gorr is the first major sign that this is going to be a classic reading. The performance is so alive and the sound on the whole holds up very well though there are a few moments that betray the age of the recording, yet it is such a vivid performance that one doesn't really quibble about the odd sound quality issue. In any case the sonic limitations are not that significant as there is a tremendous sense of thrilling sound presence. Price gives one of the most rounded, moving, portrayals of Aida. Vickers is incredibly heroic and Gorr is mesmerising. Solti and the orchestra tear into the score with such passion. Highly recommended alongside the EMI Muti and second Karajan VPO recordings.
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on 29 April 2012
I had this on cassette tape and almost wore it out but then times change, people change, and opera faded into the background for me. Recently, though, I've been hankering to be transported back into the world of opera and my first thought was to update (to CD) my Aida. I bought many versions of this opera years ago, looking for what I considered the ultimate, and this was it. Then. Now. Solti is amazing, creating extra beauty and wow from the printed page that takes you that extra mile. Nearly every performer here creates magic and I cannot recommend this version highly enough. It's a desert island in a crazy world.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 December 2014
Leontyne Price was arguably the pre-eminent Aida of her era and made two studio recordings to prove it in 1962 and 1970 when she was in peak voice and worthily partnered. The earlier recording has endured as the most celebrated of the two and certainly from the perspective of fifty years later the singing is impossibly starry by today's standards - and the sound is still pretty good too.

In fact the RCA recording has always had a slightly odd aural perspective, being somewhat studio-bound, a bit tubby, congested and lacking sharpness, whereas the Decca is both much more immediate and paradoxically more spacious. So that's one tick to Decca, even f the RCA sound is not exactly poor although it has an ugly tape splice at 56 seconds in track 29 of CD3, right at the end of the opera.

From a vocal point of view, Price's soprano has grown in volume eight years later but conversely is a little cloudier and heavier than in Rome in 1962, where she has a slightly purer, more ethereal timbre, but the differences are not great. Domingo in the first of his four complete recordings is almost boyish in tone, showing little or no strain in the higher tessitura of the most demanding passages but lacking the intensity which an equally young Jon Vickers brings to Radames; Vickers conveys greater anguish and sense of spiritual conflict which is really absorbing. Domingo is smoother but less stirring. Merrill and Milnes were both great American baritones and I can't really separate them beyond personally slightly preferring Merrill's more Italianate ring. Both Gorr and Bumbry are superb as Amneris, Gorr deploying that great, hard, ringing mezzo to almost scary effect whereas Bumbry has a warmer, more feminine sound and sounds more distraught. Tozzi is a more emphatic Ramfis than Raimondi but both vocalise beautifully; Sotin for Leinsdorf is rather under-stated as the King whereas Plinio Clabassi gives his role more heft and drama. So on balance I would give the Solti recording the nod for the quality of his cast.

The conducting is fine in both: surprisingly Solti gives the score more time and space whereas Leinsdorf pushes the drama along; he also has the benefit of a superior orchestra in the LSO but there is nothing wrong with the Rome band or chorus. Honours even, then, but Solti finds both more depth and verticality, generating more weight in the big second Act processional scene, while Leinsdorf is more fluid and mercurial, in line with Verdi's own markings. I like both.

As you may tell. I am edging my preference towards the earlier recording without wishing to denigrate the RCA set. To a large degree personal taste will dictate your choice; both are wholly recommendable although my own favourite remains the Muti account.
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on 28 February 2012
Wonderful CD - just listening and following the 3 Acts has given a good insight to the opera which I am going to in March at the Albert Hall.
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on 16 January 2013
This recording gave us a wonderful initiation before going to see Aida live at local cinema.
So much more enjoyable when you've heard more than just the famous march.
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on 20 September 2013
Bought this as prep. for the performance i Verona this autumn. Never regretted. I love it! Playing it for my neighbours.
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