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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A PERFORMANCE BETTER HEARD THAN SEEN., 24 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Verdi: Aida [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I was looking to replace my fuzzy 1981 recording of Maria Chiara's performance at the Arena di Verona, and decided to take a risk with her 1985 performance recorded at La Scala featuring Pavarotti et al.

I knew that allowances would have to be made for the limitations of the La Scala stage, and for Pavarotti's acting ability, but I still found this performance disappointing. Whilst the singing of the principals was generally excellent, the production itself lacked the visual spectacle and grandeur which most people associate with this grandest of grand operas.

Nowhere were these deficiences more apparent than in the scenes of triumph and celebration which conclude Act II. As a portrayal of military victory it owed more to "Dad's Army" than to the might of ancient Egypt, and the ballet was even worse. The dancers, scruffily dressed as peasants (why?) performed a rather perfunctory routine, hampered by lumps of rock and stone "scenery" which had been strewn around the stage for no apparent reason.

"Aida" should be a shining example of all the strengths and qualities which audiences most admire in GRAND opera, but this was a performance better heard than seen.

Other reviewers have already commented on the infuriating lack of subtitles or voice-overs on the Italian spoken sections of the accompanying Documentary disc. These problems could and should have been overcome with the application of today's technology.

I shall be keeping the 1981 Verona version after all.
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