16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Essential for the singing alone
, 17 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Verdi: Aida [DVD]  (DVD)
This performance was recorded at La Scala, Milan in 1985 and the sound is excellent. It is a very lavish no expenses spared production with elaborate costumes and effective scenery. The Aida is Maria Chiara who was far too little known outside Italy. She was Renata Tebaldi's natural successor, possessing a creamy voice and she knew how to sing texts intelligently. Radamas is Luciano Pavarotti, on whose voice it would be superfluous to comment, save to say that he is caught here at his early vocal peak. The Amneris is Ghena Dimitrova who had a strong voice of considerable range, entirely devoid of Slavonic wobble and capable of great subtlety. The smaller parts are cast from strength, and the La Scala chorus and orchestra perform in an exemplary fashion. Much of the musical excellence is due to the fine conducting of Lorin Maazel who shapes the opera intelligently, knows when to press on and when to hold back, gives his soloists room to be properly expressive and yet keeps a firm rein on proceedings. All in all this is probably the best sung Aida currently available in any medium. Whether it is for you may depend on how important it is to have first rate acting as well. We get that from Dimitrova, certainly; crossing this Pharoah's daughter would be very unwise, yet her self-imposed dilemmas are hauntingly caught. Chiara tries hard and is very athletic, but outside her singing tends to express emotions chiefly by means of hand gestures. Pavarotti, of course, doesn't act at all. He permits himself a slightly heaving chest at moments of great emotion, but for the most part he just stands and delivers. Personally speaking, I don't mind any of this. The emotion is all there in the wonderful singing (just try Chiara's 'Numi, pieta' as an example). This really is very special musically speaking.
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