Aida is one of my favourites of Verdi's operas. It may not be as dramatically concise- though it's never a bore- as Otello, Rigoletto or La Traviata, but it is memorable for the character of Amneris and of course the amazing music. Part of the 1960s-70s Tokyo opera productions series(all of which are well worth watching, Simon Boccanegra was the only one I didn't really care for), this is a wonderful performance and one of the better ones there is of the opera. The costumes and sets are very handsome and helped by the vivid colour and video quality that has more clarity than most in the series. Much easier on the eyes than the 1966 RAI telecast/broadcast, which I still liked a great deal. There is much power and beautiful tone in the orchestral playing, the chorus help to make the Grand March(which is far better choreographed than most productions' take on this scene) and the whole of Act 2 as rousing as it should be and Olivier De Fabbritis' conducting is of involved security, nothing over-egged or too subdued. The stage direction is fine on the whole, the Nile scene is the highlight of the production and Act 2 is very stirring stuff indeed.
The performances are superb, with only Ivo Vinco's rather bland Ramfis disappointing, part of me did wish that Ghiaurov or Giaiotti were used instead. Orianna Santunione is a very sincere and affecting Aida whose performance gets even better throughout the production, and while there are larger-voiced Aidas(Price and Tebaldi as examples) the flute-like quality to her voice and musicianship are very striking. Carlo Bergonzi will never be remembered all that much as an actor- of the Tokyo productions he was in his best acting was in Un Ballo in Maschera- but he will be for one of the most beautiful- if not large- and musically expressive tenor voices there was and there is enough of that to make his Radames at least memorable. Even if there are baritones in the role that have more elegant phrasing(Taddei, Guelfi, Milnes), Gianpiero Mastromei is a ruthless and powerful Amonasro, with his vocal and dramatic attack in the Nile Scene really chilling and thrilling. But the best performance does come from Fiorenza Cossotto who is one of the best, perhaps even the best, mezzos to sing Amneris. Her voice is huge and distinctive, with much stamina and nuances too. She is powerful and commanding, if not always subtle, and her Act 4 curse and Judgment scene is a powerhouse in every sense of the word.
Overall, stirringly sincere and superbly sung, this is definitely an Aida to watch. 9/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this