A rip-roaring performance and, for me, it fights in top spot with the Leontyne Price/Solti recording. Muti and Solti both knew that Aida requires power at times and the Act III duet between Aida and Amonasro is the litmus test.
One stand-out moment, in that duet, that really impressed me is the way Muti accentuates the violins (Tosca-like), underpinning Aida's distress when put under pressure by her father. They sting, they get loader and they intensify the drama. You might think that is an odd thing to highlight but wait until you hear it. Fantastic.
The pace of this interpretation is great, but I still think the Price/Solti recording nudges into top spot. The Rome Opera Chorus have the weight and power over the Royal Opera. Leontyne Price and Robert Merrill, supported by Solti, give the wonderful Act III duet that bit more intensity (notwithstanding the point I made above). Domingo has undoubtedly a more beautiful voice that Vickers, but Vickers is the warrior. Cossotto gives one of the greatest performances as Amneris, but Gorr's tone is the more attractive. Caballe has more control of her voice (amazing breath control), but Price has a quality of theatre in her voice, and a warmer tone that does it for me.
In summary, I think every Verdi lover has to have both recordings.
I bought this off the back of a Radio 3 'building a library' recommendation. I was a little wary as Placido Domingo is a headliner and I wondered whether it sold well on his name, rather than the quality and interpretation of the recording and work. However, this concern was unfounded. This is an absolutely beautiful rendition of Aida and when it comes to an introduction to the work is as crucial to Aida as Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" is to jazz. Buy it! £22 well spent.
Recorded when the leading roles were played by singers in their prime and with a conductor who clearly is enjoying every minute. Linked with a new production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London it has a feeling of immediacy.