N. Gallimore | Upminster United Kingdom | 02/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have written a number of reviews for Amazon - as in line with Shirley Bassey and Scooby Doo - This as Good as it gets!!I have seen a number of Aida's but would have sold my soul to have see this one live at the Met. However, I watched Dolora Zajick's Amneris at Covent Garden and she was as wonderful as her portryal here - at the House I shouted myself hoarse at her portrayal - mind you I did too when I watched this DVD.Domingo is perfect as Radames and Aprile Millo has done nothing better. What an emotional scene it is when Amonasro (Sherrill Milnes) holds his chained hands up in in passion at the climax of Act II.The sound and picture are perfect - the production is exemplary - this is the best Aida you are likely to see or hear. I emplore you to buy it. You really will not regret it.As I said at the start - This is as Good as it Gets! Perfect in fact."
Brava Aprile !
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1989 Metropolitan production conducted by James Levine is visually stunning with its massive sets by Gianni Quaranta, in a palette of cream, gold and brown.
Domingo's Rhadames is robust and masculine, and his performance is well acted and heartfelt, and Aprile Millo, beautiful in ebon makeup and with her marvelous profile, looks every inch the Ethiopian princess taken slave; her sound is rich, full of emotion, and with wonderful pianissimos. For me, her "O patria mia" is the highlight of this opera, and she shines in every scene she is in.I have a special fondness for Act One, Scene two, the "Temple of Vulcan", with "Nume, custode e vindice" one of the loveliest of the opera's melodies. Here it gets a stately treatment, and though it does not come close to the musical power of the Domingo/Ghiaurov/Muti CD, it is still good listening. Act Two, Scene Two, the Victory March, has some well behaved horses, a simple but pleasant ballet choreographed by Rodney Griffin with attractive dancers, and the entrance of the great Sherrill Milnes. Though well past his prime vocally, he looks fabulous, and is believable as the conquered King Amonasro. The cast is rounded out by Dolora Zajick as Amneris, Dimitri Kavrakos as the Egyptian King, and Paata Burchuladze as Ramfis.Though the stage direction is on occasion a little static, and the singing not always quite up to par, this is one of Verdi's grandest operas, and makes for very enjoyable viewing, and every minute spent with Aprile, is time well spent.
The subtitles are legible and helpful, and it comes with a small booklet with the synopsis in English and French; total running time is 158 minutes."
Ancient Egyptian razzmatazz and some great singing
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the 'Aida' productions I've witnessed, this version is my favorite. If you are searching for your first 'Aida' it should be this Metropolitan Opera production with its balance of great and good singers, and its grandiose Egyptian backdrops of sandstone, bronze, linen and gold. It has one of the better triumphal marches, too. No elephants (except for a few tusks), but scads of soldiers, dancers, Ethiopian prisoners, leopard skins, and gaily caparisoned horses.
Aprile Millo's Aida sings well, especially her celestial pianissimos, but she is a cold princess-slave. She seems to be perpetually annoyed--perhaps because Amneris got the best costumes---but her tomb scene with Placido Domingo is to die for. It is only when she has to crank up the volume that she sounds a bit pinched.
Dolora Zajick's Amneris is why you need to hear this production. She is a luscious, spoiled, intensely feminine, young Pharaoh's daughter. She is also a true Verdian mezzo with a voice as rich and seductive as her appearance. This is one of those 'Aidas' where the Pharaoh's daughter almost steals the show.
Paata Burchuladze sings a Slavic, wa-wa trombone of a Ramfis, lisping, loud, and satisfactorily menacing at the fore of his priestly chorus. I really enjoyed the stentorian booming of the priests, thundering away at the lower levels of 'Ritorna Vincitor,' demanding the deaths of the Ethiopian prisoners, and snarling out their 'tradditores' beneath Amneris's frenzied pleading in the judgement scene.
Placidio Domingo is a soldierly Radamès and his 'Celeste Aida' is sung with a silken vigor that doesn't require the interpolated, often-bleated high B flat at its climax. His nobility does make it difficult to believe his sudden decision to desert his soldiers and run away with Aida in the Nile scene, but make no mistake, this is a great tenor in his prime. If you don't shed a tear during 'O Terra Addio' maybe you should be listening to something other than opera.
Greek bass, Dimitri Kavrakos is a suitably dignified pharaoh with slightly less wa-wa than his priestly colleague, but with enough volume to be heard in the crowd scenes.
Sherrill Milnes is a ferocious, glowering Amonasro, although his baritone has definitely begun to show signs of dryness. His scene with Aida is dramatic rather than beautifully sung.
There is one fairly serious problem with this production--I've played it on two different machines, so it isn't my equipment: I can barely hear the male chorus at the beginning of the Temple of Vulcan scene. The priestess and the women's chorus come through fine, but no matter how much I crank the volume, the men's unaccompanied chorus is nothing but a distant muttering.
Even so, I think you'll love this 'Aida', right down to the last 'pace' of Amneris, quietly grieving above the tomb. "
"Aida" Exemplary of Metropolitan At Its Best
K. Bouse | Tellico Plains, TN USA | 07/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Aida" is a magnificent opera that requires complete suspension of belief to be truly enjoyed. That said, this 1989 production has all of the elements that historically make the Metropolitan Opera one of the world's best. The sets and costumes are opulent, the staging is impressive and the dancers and chorus are essential in bringing what is essentially a series of musical tableaux to life. And the singing is pure Met. The Met is all about "La Voce" and Domingo, Millo, and Zajick are all voice. Aprile Millo is incredibly believable as Aida, bringing firey passion, sublime musicality and vocal inspiration to this difficult spinto role. Dolora Zajick is a formidable Amneris, who uses her strong mezzo voice and musical sensitivity to bring the essence of Pharoah's impassioned daughter into the hearts of the audience. Placido Domingo is simply himself. He sings with articulation, power and intensity, and that's just fine. There are a few "oops" that keep this DVD from being perfect such as awkward angles, subtitles covering up a performer now and then, and the overall static nature of the production. But it is still wonderful viewing, and a wonderful artifact of the Levine era Met. Decades from now it will serve as a tangible reminder of some of the great voices of the late 20thC. This DVD is a treasure."
David Cady | Jersey City, NJ USA | 05/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot imagine a better "Aida" than this Met production/performance from 1991. The sets and costumes spectacularly reflect the grandeur of Ancient Eqypt, and James Levine is in top form, leading the ever-fabulous Met orchestra and a cast that, if not pitch-perfect, is never less than first-rate.
Admittedly, neither Domingo nor Milnes is at their best here. By this time Milnes had lost a lot of the richness in tone and shading that made him one of the best bass/baritones of his generation; he pretty much wields his voice like a blunt instrument, getting the job done, but not much more. And while this isn't an out-and-out off-night for Domingo, it isn't one of his best, either. The performance seems to be taking more effort than usual, particularly the high notes. (His modulation of the final whatever-it-is at the end of "Celeste Aida" is pretty much a metaphor for his entire performance.)
The women are, in a word, spectacular. I've seen Aprille Millo at the Met a number of times and cannot remember being so blown away. Perhaps by the time I saw her live she was in her decline. In any event, we're lucky that this DVD has captured what I think is one of the finest operatic performances I've ever seen. Truly. Millo's vocal control is astounding (the pianossimos are breathtaking) and her acting no less so (without ever toppling over the fine line into melodrama). She's nothing short of a star here, well-deserving of the hugh ovation she receives from the Met audience. And I love Zajick's interpretation of Amneris. On first glance she's the regal, jealous bitch we've seen in every other "Aida." But this superb artist takes us deeper into the character. In modern terms, she's the awkward, dumpy math geek who can't understand why the star-athlete prefers the homecoming queen. Heartbreaking."