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Aida: Metropolitan Opera (Gatti) [Blu-ray] 
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Daniele Gatti leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this sumptuous production of Verdi's opera recorded live in New York in 2009. Performers include Violeta Urmana, Johan Botha, Dolora Zajick and Carlo Guelfi.
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite the riot of coloured viscose and polyester the staging is exquisite, with all the Zeffirelli glitter one expects. However, this blu-ray suffers from the most awful video editing that distracts from the drama attempting to focus your attention on the fine fabrics, shiny amulets and Zefferelli details.
Performances are mostly good but not spectacular. Urmana sings well enough but Alagna is not on his finest form. Komlosi's Amneris for me gives the best performance and the orchestra under Chailly is superb. Audio quality is good.
But what spoils this version for me (apart from the continued practice of blacking-up Aida) most of all is the eye-wateringly ludicrous Dance of the Priestesses, performed by a ballerina who should have been paid with luncheon vouchers, pretentiously prancing about like someone from amateur rep. In fact it reminded me of The Dude's landlord in The Great Lebowski. A very atmospheric part of the opera utterly ruined.
The legendary Zefferelli set is tasteful, the camera and editing is unobtrusive, video quality is excellent, sound engineering and audio quality top notch.
As for the performers, the orchestra under Gatti sounds dynamic and well paced throughout. Urmana as Aida performs far better than she did in the vulgar Milan production. Botha sings a bold Radames from beginning to end. Indeed, everyone in the cast seems to be confident, relaxed and on top of their roles.
And then there is Dolores Zajick. Now at her maturity she would be forgiven for not performing as well as she did with Domingo and Milo. No forgiveness necessary as she is every inch the Amneris she was 20 years ago, and some!
This performance does not topple Levine's as the definitive Aida but it comes within a hair's breadth.
And yes, the bloody Met audience interrupt the final G-flat "Pace" as always. But I guess they paid a lot more than I did for the privilege.
Edit: A friend re-watched with me and commented on Urmana's performance lacking dynamism. Fair observation but I think this is very much an Amneris led performance. It's not uncommon for Amneris to upstage Aida and in this case it is performed on that premise. Here Zajick fleshes out the lovesick Amneris more than any production I have seen.
Considering its origins and its setting - whether it was composed for a grand occasion or not - Verdi's Aida is appropriately stately in its expressions of nationalistic pride and identity, with extravagant marches, battle hymns, ceremonial processions and dances. There's no point in doing Aida in a minimalist style, as Robert Wilson has done in the past (although it's certainly interesting to see something different attempted) - this is an opera that just calls out for a grand scale production. If you haven't got a stage the size of the Arena di Verona, and a director like Franco Zeffirelli to fill it, the nearest grand, traditionally staged Aida you are going to find is this Sonja Frisell production - now over twenty years old - for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
It's a big production in every respect - and yes, I include the size of the singers in this - with towering temples, the stage filled with chorus, troops, dancers and well-tanned, bare-chested slaves, even horses and chariots, all arranged in grand ceremonial processions and formations.Read more ›
I have to confess that I didn't find the production as offensive as some reviewers (surely the whole point of Aida is grand spectacle and there were some very clever ideas explored), but I have many issues with the performers.
Alagna isn't in the best of voice here, although nothing I saw on this opening night suggested to me that he deserved to be booed as voraciously as he was a few nights later - but, as often is the case in this opera house, there was a lot of behind the scenes politcal forces at work here too.
I absolutely hated Violeta Urmana's Aida in every respect (vocally, acting, credibility) and having now seen her at the Met, I haven't changed my mind.
I also wasn't bowled over by Komlosi's Amneris, as some reviewers were - but, she is undoubtedly the best thing in this.
If I'm honest, I was disappointed with Carlo Guefi, which suprised me, because I found much to admire in his Rigoletto at Covent Garden.
Having not really much more to say about this recording, other than I cannot recommend this to you (unless you like dodgy acting, screechy, off-key and at times, unpleasant singing) but there are so many Aida's out there, that it is nigh impossible to highlight just one.
The last La Scala version is better sung and marginally a better production; but as glorious as Pavarotti sounds; he cannot pull off the very complex role of Radames. My wife always says that in the tomb scene he looks more like he's propping up the bar in the early hours, rather than suffocating to death!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a spectacular production, with big sets representing Egyptian temples. It is wholly successful as a spectacle with a large chorus, horses on stage and great dance... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Colin W
Excellent video. Delivery was quick. Good value for money. Very pleasedPublished 20 months ago by MR S J HALDENBY
You may notice that in reading the 20 reviews, that they are crossed with the Alagna Zurich production and vice versa. This is definately a review of the 2011 Met! Read morePublished on 11 July 2014 by I. Zaneres
I have seen only one better production of this Verdi masterpiece, better only because it had real animals in the Grand March. Read morePublished on 23 April 2014 by Don