12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The one to have!,
This review is from: Great Recordings Of The Century: Verdi, Aida (Audio CD)
I have just finished playing this excellent recording of Verdi's masterpiece, and having not listened to it in a while I'd forgotten just how good it is. So I came on here to see what others think and am glad to see the enthusiastic reviews, with which I completely agree.
I remember the performance from Covent Garden with the same forces back in the 70s - it was one of those that stood one's hair on edge (in the days when I had hair). The LPs/cassettes followed and I played them to destruction - a few years ago I saw the CDs in the HMV shop and snapped them up.
The prime attractions for many will be Domingo and Caballe and understandably so. Domingo is in fine form and his Celeste Aida is the best I have heard anywhere. He sounds fresh throughout and his act 3 duet with Aida is breathtaking, along with his thrilling "Sacerdote, io resto a te" right at the end of the act. This is one of Caballe's best performances - you simply don't get soft singing like this very often. Her big arias (Ritorna vincitor and O patria mia) are a testament to the beauty of the human voice at its best. Both singers actually play the roles - unlike many stars in recordings, they don't just go through the motions and make nice noises, you really believe in them as characters.
Of the excellent supporting cast, Fiorenza Cossotto's Amneris is particularly noteworthy. She sings with power and tenderness where appropriate, and always with intelligence. You realise that Amneris is really quite a decent sort after all. Particularly moving is her pleas to the priests for Radames's forgiveness in Act 4 Scene 1.
Muti proves the ideal Verdi conductor. With his Philharmonia forces, the orchestral playing is a revelation, yet not intrusive in the "conductor's opera" way that you sometimes find with Karajan, Bernstein and later Sinopoli. The set pieces - e.g. the triumphal scene - are predictably exciting, yet there is real subtlety and beauty where needed, particularly in the prelude and last scene.
The recording is stunning - why don't they make them like that now? There is a sense of space and scale - you "get" the offstage choruses and brass - and all instruments and voices can be heard in balance without any obvious artificial miking.
Strongly recommended, and if you're tempted, get it now - EMI have no loyalty to their catalogue as like many recording companies, accountants are apparently in charge when it comes to classical music.