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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic spectacle but soloists could have been better, 12 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Aida 3D (Verona) [Hui Je, Marco Berti, Andrea Ulbrich, Gianfranco De Bosio] [Opus Arte: OABD7122D] [Blu-ray] [2013] [NTSC] (Blu-ray)
Aida is a hell of an opera to stage: Enormous sets?? massive sound stage? huge cast, expensive costumes and it needs a decent set of soloists. Recent Blu-ray releases have been lamentable so this new release faces little competition. That is not to deride it before I start but I found it a bit of a mixed bag. It is an attempt to recreate the original staging in 1913 under Tullio Serafin and it would appear to achieve this remarkably well. The only other mega stage Aida is the SD release from St Margarethen and I have compared them in part. St Margarethen is even bigger than Verona and obviously suffers from massive sound issues from the head mics and the huge distances but it is still quite impressive.
Here the sound is better managed with a battery of fixed mics along the front of the stage and no head mics were visible if they were used at all. It worked quite well and one could not expect much better considering the nature of the arena. The staging was spectacular with an enormous cast of dancers and soldiers, even dancing horses that bowed and a cat that failed to turn up at the end for his bow! The camera work was good with one regret: There were no close ups of any of the dancers, many of whom were beautifully turned out and put on a rip-roaring show. They deserved more exposure and as the audience I wanted it too. Many were Africans as far as I could see, including children, and they were given no credits which is a shame. The costumes and general staging were magnificent and although the bit rate was a bit low (18-20 Mbps) it all looked very good. The soloists were adequate but not in my view anything to really shout about. The Met soloists were grossly overweight and this is a bit of an issue here. As cameras on Blu-ray recordings get better the appearance of the soloists DOES matter and age and fitness do influence the audience's perception. I remember Marco Berti as an indifferent Calaf in Turandot in the Forbidden City and he has not added much lustre in my view. Neither of the ladies were particularly well cast but sang quite well.
I do not like 3D and have not tested this disc under 3D conditions. All in all this must be the best Aida on disc right now and we may never get a more spectacular setting but there is certainly room for improvement in the soloists. The Israeli conductor did a great job and the orchestra played beautifully
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,523