Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - Aida|
Actors: Kate Aldrich, Scott Piper, Adina Aaron, Massimiliano Stefanelli, Paolo Pecchioli
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
M. T. Lawrence | S. Florida | 07/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for elephants, camels and everything else that can be thrown into the grand parade scene of AIDA, this is not the DVD for you. However,if the singing is what you're interested in, this is definitely worth seeing. Scott Piper is a handsome actor/singer and portrays Radames shifting allegiances well. Gorgeous voice. Adina Aaron as Aida is magnificent--a singer of great dignity and prescence (beautiful too) who makes you believe every word she sings. The third side of this traingle, Kate Aldrich as the Pharoah's daughter, is a bit petulant and tends to play with her wig a lot. The effect is of a spoiled teenager not getting her way--but that may have been how she was directed.
Every part of the Zeffirelli-designed production is stunning. The sets Zeffirelli squeezes into the tiny Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, the costumes, head-dresses and wigs, the make-up (dig those lapis-lazuli faces on Pharoah's retainers!) are all worth watching closely, even studying. The big parade scene is cleverly "cheated" by having the crowds face away from the audience as if watching a parade go by which we can't see. This prevents the opera from sagging into mere spectacle.
At the time of filming, the singers were young newcomers chosen by Zeffirelli himself. It's great to see the assurance of a proven director/designer blend with the eagerness and confidence of these soon-to-be stars.
A bonus: subtitles are in multiple languages, including Italian, for those who want the actual lyrics and not a translation."
A special gift: Franco Zeffirelli directing Grand Opera in a
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 08/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi's death, Franco Zeffirelli organized this performance of "Aida" as a workshop for young performers. The opera is staged in Verdi's hometown of Busetto at the small 350 seat Teatro Giuseppe Verdi. This set of two DVD's is worth owning just to see the 45 minute documentary feature in which we are flies on the wall at the master classes conducted by Zeffirelli for the young soloists who were selected after an international audition.
The great Verdi tenor from the 1950's, Carlo Bergonzi, serves as their vocal coach. Zeffirelli is their stage director and works with them on character interpretation and development. We're not used to seeing singers in their early 20's perform the roles of Radames, Amneris, and Aida. Zeffirelli challenges them (and us) to think about the characters in a new way - as young people, who, for the first time are exploring love, witnessing the cruelty of the world, facing the decision of whether to choose another over oneself. (Aida and Amneris both must face this choice and, as we know, follow different paths.)
Zeffirelli talks about each character in detail as the performers, in street clothes and in a small rehearsal room, practice their arias just inches in front of him. For example, Zeffirelli tells Kate Aldrich that she is not to play Amneris as the femme fatale we're used to seeing, but instead should think of her as a young, inexperienced girl of privilege who is used to getting her way and has no idea that her impulsive actions could have such tragic real-life consequences. The result of Zeffirelli's work with these young performers is that we see this familiar opera through new eyes.
The performance of the opera itself is captivating. In one of the master classes, when Zeffirelli begins to talk about the Triumphal March, he says (with a twinkle in his eye), "They're going to expect elephants, but they won't get them." No we won't. An adult elephant would fill the entire stage, leaving no room for the performers! The full impact of the small size of the stage isn't apparent until the camera pulls back during the curtain call and we see that the stage isn't even a rectangle. It's a square. It's smaller than the stage that sat at one end of my junior high school gym!
Can Grand Opera work on such a small stage? Yes. It works because, as I've indicated, Zeffirelli focuses on the characters, not the spectacle. For example, the Triumphal March takes place off stage. The performers turn their backs to us and, along with them, we must imagine the procession going past as we listen to Verdi's magnificent score. Only Aida faces us, sharing the pain she's experiencing at knowing that her own people are being marched by as prisoners.
If this performance were on CD, you'd probably chose another version - one with Placido Domingo, Leontyne Price, Dolora Zajick...the list of great performers who played the three leads is a long one. Adina Aaron, who plays Aida in this production, says in the documentary, "Who knows? Maybe it will open the door to our careers or maybe it will just mean that we can say to people that we've worked with one of the great directors of all time." Well, I googled the names of the three leads (who happen to all be American). It appears that they've yet to make it to The Met. They're playing at the Dayton Opera, the Utah Opera, the Michigan Opera. So, yes, the voices on this DVD aren't always as great as those we're used to hearing. But what makes this DVD so special is that these young performers are able to realize Zeffirelli's vision and give us the gift of Grand Opera in an intimate setting.
At the end of the documentary, Zeffirelli says, "The chance to work with young artists was what seduced me into doing this. It was like a flight of doves. They came from all over the world like doves called by desire." You too will be seduced by these young, earnest, talented performers."
The Met is slow
Colston | Las Vegas | 02/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Franco Zefferelli's portrayal of each character to each of the young singers is as delightful to watch as the performance itself. The singers absorb his mentoring, and perform admirably. The four leading performers are superb. I agree with one of the reviewers that Scott Piper out-performs Domingo. Adina Aaron IS Aida, more passionate than the Met's Urmana. Kate Aldrich is a super singer/actress. She is such a pleasure to watch, thanks to DVD - beautiful and versatile. She and Dolora Zajick are the best Amneris in the business.
Do I miss the horses and the ballet? With a performance like this, not really.
If it wasn't for Amazon's review facilitation, I would not have known about this Aida. I am grateful to the reviewers. I shall purchase any opera by young performers directed by Zefferelli. Hypothetically, given a choice of attending this performance, or the 2010 Aida at the Met, I go with Zefferelli. The Met is slow. Gelb should have already signed some of these young stars."
A beautiful dvd of aida
E. Lyons | Ann Arbor, MI | 11/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is like watching a film with actors instead of singers! That is how convincing Aldrich, Aaron and Piper are. They all look their parts and act well and the production is amazing to the smallest detail. The voices of these singers are to small to sing the roles under normal conditions, of course, but it really doesn't matter here: the house and orchestra are small, and the voices well caught in recording, so you can just turn the volume up on your TV and pretend it's a huge theatre :) Kate Aldrich's Amneris is especially memorable. This is really one of the best DVDs in my collection. If you love this opera, don't think twice about getting it. In fact, the acting and production are so enthralling that even those new to opera will probably be riveted to the screen."