Aida was commissioned in 1869
for the new opera house in Cairo and first performed there
two years later. It is famous for its massive
choral and ballet effects and also for its great orchestral
splendour. It deals with a conflict between love and patriotism
and despite the ceremony and pomp is shot through with
infinite sadness. It is in many ways one of Verdi’s most
perfect scores, a fact that is sometimes overlooked because
of the spectacular
Verona Arena was built in AD 30 and was originally designed
for more than 30,000 spectators. It was greatly damaged in
1117 by an earthquake, but subsequently restored to its present
form. It is now famous for its open air opera productions
where a huge audience sits on the stone seating originally
designed for spectators for Roman gladiatorial games - a
cushion is recommended! With its massive stage that includes
two immense stone stairways this is a perfect setting for Aida.
The scenery of ancient Rome was very apt for an opera set
in ancient Egypt.
production values are strong with a superb stage-scape based
around a pyramid and the lavish use of gold paint. In the
more intimate parts of the opera where there are often only
one or two people on stage, the effect of the large setting
helps to underline the puny individual facing up to the immense
forces unleashed when war is declared between two states.
The costumes are a very exotic - especially the headwear
- and are in line with our expectations of the richness of
singing is exceptionally good without any weak link. Maria
Chiara in the title role is glorious, especially in the
final duet with Fiorenza Cossotto as Amneris. Perhaps the
memorable characterisation is that produced by Giancarlo
Sbragia as Amonasro. The atmosphere is electric when he
is on stage.
Guadagno conducts with spirit throughout the opera and
the choral and balletic effects, not to mention the innumerable ‘extras’ are,
striking in this fine setting. The only slight disappointment
is the recording, which whilst perfectly adequate lacks
the spatial dimension and throughout gave a rather generalised
with so many DVDs the production could be greatly improved
by providing more documentation. There was no accompanying
booklet and one has to rely upon reading the rear of the
cover label through the plastic box to find details of the
opera and the DVD Chapter references.
this is a good record of a fine live performance with splendid
production and vocal standards.