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Verdi: Aida (Arena Di Verona 1992) (Arthaus Musik: 107253) [DVD] [2012]

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Maria Chiara, Dolora Zajick, Kristján Jóhannsson, Juan Pons, Nicola Ghiuselev
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Italian, German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • DVD Release Date: 30 April 2012
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007N0SX7W
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,234 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Recorded at the world-famous Arena di Verona, this opulent production of Verdi’s popular opera Aida was brought to life in a classic staging by Gianfranco De Bosio and conducted by Nello Santi, one of the greatest living representatives of the Italian singer-conductor tradition, who led a cast of exceptional singers, all well rooted in the Italian tradition. The dramatic role of Aida was central to Maria Chiara’s repertoire, and she regularly appeared at the arena as Verdi’s heroine. Her intense, introverted interpretation of the role is complemented by Icelandic tenor Kristján Jóhannsson’s Radamés. The other roles are filled by equally strong singers: American mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick has made a speciality of Verdi’s troubled rich-girl Amneris, while Juan Pons is heard at the peak of his powers in his reading of Amonasro. The opera is staged in front of the imposing, ancient Roman backdrop of the Arena di Verona and the sets, based on the original designs by influential Veronese architect and painter Ettore Fagiuoli (1884-1961), are similarly impressive. The vastness of the arena, allows for a vision that is almost cinematic, thus making the work ideal for a recording on DVD. Masterfully captured this opera classic proves to be a feast for the eyes and the ears of the home viewer.

Review

This is marvellous, with sets and costumes as from 1913, and the Verona Arena in all its glory. The performance is an impassioned one by a team of veterans. A must. --- 5*/4* --Michael Tanner, BBC Music Magazine

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This DVD of Aida is probably one of the most even in terms of singing that one could find on the market, spanning from the days of the great Luciano Pavarotti, given that even Pav in his time did NOT have as good an Aida as one could probably find here in Hui He.
In the major supporting role, Amneris is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, who reprises this role since the late 1980's with Cheryl Studer as Aida.
While Hui He may not be most verbally incisive Aida, her performance here sets her way above many other lyrical spinto sopranos who have undertaken this role: Maria Chiara, Cheryl Studer, Violetta Urmana, and more lately Sondra Radvanovsky, though not yet recorded.
Hui He's impassioned performance of this role is fully enhanced by her shimmering lirico spinto voice, which is fully lyrical without the slightest edginess that marrs other spinto sopranos like Urmana and Radvanovsky. Yet her timbre is at the same full-bodied and rich throughout all registers, which is a real marvel. Her duet with the veteran D'Intino is the first bit of evidence of her seemingly endless vocal prowess, and her Nile scene culminating in her great rendition of 'O Patri Mia' is outright the greatest rendition heard since the days of Monseratt Caballe who recorded this role for Ricardo Muti in the early 1980's.
Her duet with Amonasro is the third piece of concrete evidence of her fully convincing portrayal of the emotionally torned Aida. The final death scene with Radames on the other hand witnesses her superb lyricism in this role after a full-length emotionally-charged performance of Aida.
As Radames, Marco Berti has all the vocal goods - squillo, pitch and range.
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Format: Blu-ray
This is the worst release in the Tutto Verdi series, even though it gets a little better in the last two acts. It was compiled from two performances on February 2012. I didn't give it only one star because of a hissy fit, but because there is nothing in it worth another star.

It is a challenging task to review the singing honestly without coming across as mean-spirited and/or boring, so I'll pass. Body mikes were used and everything in the orchestra pit is spot miked, so there is no sense of a coherent, continuous space and you don't get a feeling of the hall ambiance or of "being there". The sets are traditional but the costumes are a confusion of style from anywhere but ancient Egypt (Nepal? Mongolia? I think I even detected Aztecs). There are miles of colorful fabric on stage, not counting footwear, headgear and endless various accessories. The prevailing color is blue - this was nicknamed "Blue Aida" when it first appeared in the Verdi Festival in 2005. The direction is static - the singers engage in solemn, stereotypical postures (or are just on their own, there is little acting). There is absolutely no dramatic tension or development; it's all flat and lifeless. The conductor is useless. Even the gods expressed their disapproval by causing an earthquake the day of the prima - it lasted about 30-40 seconds, a magnitude of 4.9, strong shaking.

This release may have one practical use: to be used as a tool to diagnose tone deafness. One of the leads has the worst intonation I've ever heard (among other serious problems). He/she is sometimes flat by more than a quartertone, a few times by almost half a tone! That means he/she sometimes hits closer to the next note down instead of to the right one, and this is easy to spot because it happens in loud, exposed singing. All twenty-four major and minor scales have half tone intervals, so if you are unable to spot this singer you may be tone deaf.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He and Berti bear the new Aida standard. 29 May 2012
By A. F. S. Mui - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Having viewed and re-viewed this DVD, I have come to conclusion that in terms of current Verdian singers, there is simply too few that could out-sing Marco Berti or Hui He, respectively the Radames and Aida in this performance.
In the opening Celeste Aida, Berti pours forth in a timbre with just the right amount of squillo and lyricism that one seldom hears these days (for the past decade). Here and there, very sparingly, one tight high note creeps in, but only fleetingly and undamagingly. Here is a true Verdian tenor, who luckily, has his voice 'saved' until his 50th year (he's born in 1962 January) for the real big roles and who has not 'squandered' his vocal goods in the earlier years. He is now truly ripe for the Verdian roles like Radames in 'Aida', Gustavo in 'Un Ballo', Mantua in 'Rigoletto', Ernani, Steffilio, if not Alfredo in 'La Traviata' or Manrico in 'Il Trovatore'. One certainly hope that Berti can be more dramatically alert in his acting, but with a good director, such is not impossible.
Hui He as Aida is fully convincing and dramatically affecting. As one commentary has it - her Nile scene is so passionately rendered that the water of the Nile simply simmers. Here is a Verdian soprano singing in her absolute prime. It is trite to note that the entire Act III of this recording is being dominated by her Aida, with Maestri and Berti in singularly capable partnerships with her in turn: Maestri vocally as well as dramatically; Berti vocally if not dramatically.
The production does not focus merely on the grandiose of this work - it focuses on the humane side and indirectly denounces military biligerance.
A highly recommended DVD of Verdi's masterpiece.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four star (+) for a sterling cast with a shimmering Hui He as Aida. 14 May 2012
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This DVD of Aida is probably one of the most even in terms of singing that one could find on the market, spanning from the days of the great Luciano Pavarotti, given that even Pav in his time did NOT have as good an Aida as one could probably find here in Hui He.
In the major supporting role, Amneris is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, who reprises this role since the late 1980's with Cheryl Studer as Aida.
While Hui He may not be most verbally incisive Aida, her performance here sets her way above many other lyrical spinto sopranos who have undertaken this role: Maria Chiara, Cheryl Studer, Violetta Urmana, and more lately Sondra Radvanovsky, though not yet recorded.
Hui He's impassioned performance of this role is fully enhanced by her shimmering lirico spinto voice, which is fully lyrical without the slightest edginess that marrs other spinto sopranos like Urmana and Radvanovsky. Yet her timbre is at the same full-bodied and rich throughout all registers, which is a real marvel. Her duet with the veteran D'Intino is the first bit of evidence of her seemingly endless vocal prowess, and her Nile scene culminating in her great rendition of 'O Patri Mia' is outright the greatest rendition heard since the days of Monseratt Caballe who recorded this role for Ricardo Muti in the early 1980's.
Her duet with Amonasro is the third piece of concrete evidence of her fully convincing portrayal of the emotionally torned Aida. The final death scene with Radames on the other hand witnesses her superb lyricism in this role after a full-length emotionally-charged performance of Aida.
As Radames, Marco Berti has all the vocal goods - squillo, pitch and range. He is, however, not as convincing in terms of acting, being a more stolid stage presence than most members of this cast.
As Amonasro, Ambrogio Maestri is very effective, giving a hair-standing duet with Aida.
The sets and costumes are very elegant, if not outright grand.
Zubin Mehta takes veteran reign over the entire show, if a bit on the stolid side.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Fiasco in Parma 3 Jun. 2013
By Noam Eitan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
This is the worst release in the Tutto Verdi series, even though it gets a little better in the last two acts. It was compiled from two performances on February 2012. I didn't give it only one star because of a hissy fit, but because there is nothing in it worth another star.

It is a challenging task to review the singing honestly without coming across as mean-spirited and/or boring, so I'll pass. Body mikes were used and everything in the orchestra pit is spot miked, so there is no sense of a coherent, continuous space and you don't get a feeling of the hall ambiance or of "being there". The sets are traditional but the costumes are a confusion of style from anywhere but ancient Egypt (Nepal? Mongolia? I think I even detected Aztecs). There are miles of colorful fabric on stage, not counting footwear, headgear and endless various accessories. The prevailing color is blue - this was nicknamed "Blue Aida" when it first appeared in the Verdi Festival in 2005. The direction is static - the singers engage in solemn, stereotypical postures (or are just on their own, there is little acting). There is absolutely no dramatic tension or development; it's all flat and lifeless. The conductor is useless. Even the gods expressed their disapproval by causing an earthquake the day of the prima - it lasted about 30-40 seconds, a magnitude of 4.9, strong shaking.

This release may have one practical use: to be used as a tool to diagnose tone deafness. One of the leads has the worst intonation I've ever heard (among other serious problems). He/she is sometimes flat by more than a quartertone, a few times by almost half a tone! That means he/she sometimes hits closer to the next note down instead of to the right one, and this is easy to spot because it happens in loud, exposed singing. All twenty-four major and minor scales have half tone intervals, so if you are unable to spot this singer you may be tone deaf.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful! 19 Jan. 2013
By Walsiejean Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is done so beautifully! Beautiful voices, wonderful acting, especially by the female lead. I have watched this over and over - and cry every time! So beautiful.
5.0 out of 5 stars A most enjoyable performance 31 July 2016
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Very nice set and costumes by Mauro Carosi. The procuction is well staged in the relatively small scene at Parma by Joseph Franconi Lee. Here's a performance that really works.Everything seems just right, but if you MUST have the top soloists (Pavarotti, Domingo...), look elsewhere. However, I think that the ones here (Susanna Branchini (Aida), Mariana Pentcheva (Amneris), Walter Fraccaro (Radames), Alberto Gazale (Amonasro), Carlo Malinverno (Il Re di Egitto) do a fantastic job. Also pluses for the ballet and the video production.
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