9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A great traditional Aida,
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This review is from: Verdi: Aida. Metropolitan Opera [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
This is an absolutely traditional production of Aida, entirely true to the era of the story and with the monumental and spectacular sets typical of the Metropolitan Opera. The costumes are excellent and we are treated to a real triumphal march complete with horses and chariot, though it is not as imaginative as it might be, consisting largely of a great number of people trooping across the stage in various guises. This is really the only significant weakness of the production, it is so traditional and predictable that there is really no excitement such as one gets from productions with something new and interesting to present.
The music throughout is excellent. There are places where Levine's typically slow pacing makes familiar sections drag a little but this is a minor problem with the orchestra in great form and such a cast of excellent principals. Outstanding are Aprile Millo as Aida, Dolora Zajick as Amneris and Placido Domingo as Radames, all of whom give dramatic performances with huge voices but also have the experience and sheer vocal quality to provide many moments of great musicality and drama with subtle and restrained singing when appropriate. The only relative disappointment amongst the four main principals is Sherrill Milnes as Aida's father Amonasro. He never seems comfortable in the role of the Ethiopian king and he does not appear to be in great vocal form. Perhaps most surprisingly from this very dramatic operatic performer is that his acting often appears stilted and not at all believable. It is true that this is not a natural role for him, but Aprile Millo is surprisingly wonderful in a role that one might have thought would not be natural for her. The role of Ramfis, the High Priest, is played by Paata Burchuladze and it is very welcome to have someone of his calibre with such a huge rich bass voice playing this character. He is not always subtle but is unfailingly effective as the dominating and bloodthirsty priest.
Overall this is certainly a great production, if rather uninspired. Its greatest strength lies in the vocal contributions of the three leading principals and Ramfis. It does not, however, equal the vocal quality of the 1981 production from San Francisco with Pavarotti and Margaret Price, especially as that production has the advantage of the ideal casting of Simon Estes as Amonasro.