Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Scott Piper, Enrico Giuseppe Iori, Adina Aaron, Kate Aldrich, Paolo Pecchioli
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Similarly Requested DVDs
An Intimate Staging Of A Large Scale Opera - And It Works!
John G. Gleeson Sr. | Frederic, Mi USA | 08/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After watching this excellent, exciting performance, I went to the booklet that accompanies the DVD to see who the performers were. Much to my surprise, I discovered that they were all in their mid-twenties when the opera was staged in 2001. In fact, it was the director and stage designer, Franco Zeffirelli who
"... organized the production as a workshop for talented young performers who are to be opera's future". The soloists received "... intensive tuition [sic] in singing..." from legendary tenor Carlo Bergonzi, arguably the best interpreter of Verdi's tenor roles in second half of the 20th century.The opera was staged as part of the commemorative of the 100th anniversary of Verdi's death in his home town of Busseto, in the tiny Teatro Giuseppe Verdi. When the opera opened with shots of a small stage and a small orchestra, I thought that I had made a mistake in buying this disc.I had not! The performance is totally captivating from beginning to end. Large scale Aida comes across very well in a small setting, where the focus is on character and not spectacle. Everything about this performance works splendidly to present Aida in a way that I had not experienced before.And these "talented young performers"? How did they manage the very demanding vocal roles? Like seasoned professionals! Adina Aaron carries the title role with near perfection, and my most memorable Aida was Leontyne Price! Aaron not only sings beautifully, from her first note to her last, with no sign of strain or fatigue, but she can really act. Kate Aldrich nearly steals the show as Amneris, the daughter of the King: she is beautiful and sings with incredible sensitivity, suppleness and perfect technique -- and she, too, can act. Tenor Scott Piper sings the role of Radames with great elan; his spinto voice is a bit lighter than some of the dramatic tenors who sing this role, but it is a fresh, lyrical voice that never tires or strains. Bergonzi's mentoring was demonstrated very well indeed, in Mr. Piper's case. Baritone Giuseppe Garra sings the role of Amonasro with total conviction and with fantastic voice. Conductor Massimiliano Stefanelli conducts with authority and sensitivity; he observes all of Verdi's dynamic markings, thus making the intimacy of this performance very immediate.The disc quality is first rate, with great digital picture, and sound that can be played in the DTS mode, for a fantastic sonic experience. TDK Mediactive has issued several operas lately, and all that I have seen are simply wonderful, without exception. They use European productions, where expectations of operatic excellence are high.When I purchased this disc, I was looking for a well sung, authoritive, recent performance, without the vocally very tired presence of Domingo or Pavarotti. I was looking for a combination of authentic Verdi combined with outstanding picture and sound qualities. I found them.If you are looking for a fresh yet well performed version of one of opera's fundamental works, you cannot do much better than this."
Truly Celeste Aida!!!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last night I kicked back to watch, for the first time, the much-talked about Aida from the Verdi Centenary Celebration in his hometown of Busseto.
Franco Zeffirelli designed and directed and while he's so often accused (and often rightly so) of excess, the tiny 350 seat Busseto opera house, does simply not allow for big anything. The end result is that Zeffirelli seemed to take all of his creative power and infuse it into a spectacular small scale production where all of his big ideas shine through in his intense work with what has to be the youngest professional cast of any Aida
at any time in history.
In some reviews Scott Piper is criticized as having too small a voice, but wow what he does with it. It's a beautiful (gorgeous) sound not unreminiscent to me of the young Pavarotti, sharing that same "sun of Italy" brightness that made the superstar's
voice so individualistic and well loved. His Celeste Aida is, quite simply, sung with such beauty of tone and attention to detail that I played it twice more before moving on. Handsome and boasting a sort of "Blacktino" heart throb appearance, his Radames is a very involved, physically appealing boy warrior
caught up in his own hype. It's a thoroughly moving idea and it works like a charm here.
My new favorite YAM (Young American Mezzo) Kate Aldrich (a native Mainer!) is an Amneris of great physical and vocal beauty, and who throws a bit of 1920's silent film vamp into her gait that is amusing, appealing and not inappropriate here. Aldrich was only 26 with this Amneris but her sound belies her
age with a rich, velvety chest voice that dips deep
into the lower range with astonishing ease. In addition to her warm lower range, Aldrich also boasts top notes that are clear, ringing and rival the soprano's. An expressive actress, its nothing short of astonishing watching her pouty, spoilt-child Princess develop into a compassionate observer, awakened to
the brutality of her civilization. For once Amneris's shouts at the priests (paraphrased: You call yourselves ministers of heaven, but you feed on blood and slaughter) ring with a horrifying recognition that signifies the end of innocence. The final image as with the temple priestesses she invokes the gods for peace, we've witnessed an entire journey of development and
transformation. A truly remarkable performance.
Adina Aaron has a lovely radiance, but, I found just a hint of blandness to her performance in the first and part of the second acts. (I realize just how difficult it is to look "forlorn" for so long - something that rarely comes without years of stage experience which this singer simply hasn't had the benefit of.) She grows increasingly better with every appearance however,
and in the Nile Scene she comes into her own blazing with an intensity and sensuality rare in any Aida. This Aida pours on a seduction I have never quite witnessed before in this opera (or, really, ever even thought about) and it works. Radames is helpless as Aida sings, reaching into his already open tunic. Their kiss following "A noi duce fia l'amor" in the duet is not your typical opera stage kiss, but real. All of this, of course, would mean nothing if they couldn't carry it off musically and
the happy news here is the entire duet is ravishingly sung. The Italians loved it and applaud a good long while as the lovers grows more passionate and Aida's arm encircles and tightens around Radames' neck. Look out, hot stuff comin' through!
The costumes and heavy ancient Egyptian eye make up make everyone look beautiful and as though they'd all just popped off of an ancient painting on a papyrus. Zeffirelli presents a lot of new fangled ideas with old fashioned gestures to create an Aida that is artistically stunning and dramatically resonates with a lot of what's going on in the world today. His cast - from top to bottom - is gorgeous to look at and a better acted Aida would be hard to find.
The young Italian Maestro Massimiliano Stefanelli conducts with a brisk élan that sweeps everything along wonderfully, crisp and fresh, yet knows when to linger over a phrase or extend the line for a singer having a "moment." He has a field day with the Triumphal Scene and the sound coming from both the tiny stage and the pit of the theatre is amazing!
The whole thing (the sets really are an amazing achievement of old fashioned painted flat drops combined with 3-D set pieces that deceive the eye brilliantly) and works so well for the television screen that it almost feels made for it. I knew the theatre was small, but it's not until the entire company is lined up for a bow that one realizes how tiny the place is!
It struck me at one point that the three principals of this most Italian of operas, were all young American singers, singing in an Italian house - and the Italians absoltuely loved them! Pretty sweet. And pretty hopeful!
This Aida goes straight to the top of the list!
UNIQUE AND UNCONVENTIONAL, BUT IT WORKS!
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 04/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Aida is an opera which has always been presented on the grand scale, and here we have a completely different approach to this massive work. It's been made very intimate and very immediate. This has a positive effect on the drama itself, and it certainly gives a better opportunity to concentrate on the actual drama of Aida, Rhadames and Amneris. The camera close-ups of the singers are especially helpful in this respect, and since all the lead singers are young and beautiful, this is really nice to watch. The sets are beautiful, though they too are scaled for the smaller stage utilized here. Overall, this is a wonderful way to experience "Aida", one that many will watch again and again.
The only caveat is that the opera is presented with some rather noticeable cuts --------- which are immediately obvious to anyone who knows the opera well. Were the opera presented in it's complete form, it would be worthy of a 5 star rating. The singing is excellent, considering the ages of the respective singers. No -- they do not approach the sheer power, volume and impact that seasoned operatic legends have lavished on this music, but they are quite good, and in a small theatre such as this one, their performances work well, as none of their voices are very large.
The production is very beautiful, and the orchestra plays the music beautifully. It's an outstanding way to introduce someone to "Aida" , but also an excellent way for an opera "veteran" to see this opera performed in a very unique and interesting manner."
Mr Bassil A MARDELLI | Riad El-SOLH , Beirut Lebanon | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Very Good interpretation'
This is the comment I have been receiving from those who saw this Opera, live.
The DVD is not different.
As far as I am concerned it has been able to provide proper appreciation of the creative work of such dramatic presentations set to music.
Aida, Opera of grandiose libretto and refined orchestra (The Grand March and Ballet), was supposed to see its premier in Cairo in 1869.
Ismail Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, was the father eternal of the Grand Opera-House of Cairo.
The Pasha aimed at excelling Western cultures as art paramour and he asked Verdi to write an opera to be a masterpiece for posterity and take perpetual patriotic touches on the opening of the Cairo Opera House in 1869. (Not the opening of the Suez Canal as many believe so)
Eventually it had premiered in December 1871 due to the Franco-Prussian war, which created difficulties to transport the costumes and related paraphernalia from Paris to Egypt. The Acts scenes are at Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt, and require large number of players, Priests, Egyptian populace, Ethiopians prisoners of war, slaves, guards and soldiers and a spacious stage.
I wonder how the people in charge of any theatre should be able to provide the necessary accommodations.