This magnificent production of Verdi's much-loved masterpiece was a triumphant success when it opened at La Scala in December 1985, and Luciano Pavarotti's long-awaited performance as Radames--his first in Italy--was gree... more »ted with rapturous applause. In this live recording of that same production, Pavarotti heads an exceptional cast with Ghena Dimitrova, Maria Chiara, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Paata Burchuladze, and Juan Pons all in peak form. Lorin Maazel's reading of the score shows a rare understanding of Verdi's music. Verdi wrote Aida in response to a request by the Khedive of Egypt for an opera with authentic Egyptian flavor to open the Cairo Opera House in 1871. The opera's appeal was immediate and lasting, with this production capturing perfectly the imposing grandeur of the land of the pharaohs and the ochre hues of the desert. It is an ideal setting for the magnificent spectacle of the opera, which combines so consummately with the drama of human emotion, played out in Radames's love for the slave girl Aida and the jealousy of Amneris, daughter of the Egyptian king. In Italian with English subtitles. 160 minutes.« less
"This video brings some very good voices. Pavarotti is not exactly the best Radames ever, but his performance is no less than good. The problem is the production itself. The scenery has no charm, the triumphal march is NO triumpahl march, and the ballet scenes are just dreadful. All production is very amateur and it is amazing that such an important theater like the La Scalla was not able to bring us anything better than this. I do NOT recommend it to anyone, even if you are a great Aida fan."
A glorious high school production
C. R. Pitasi | Yarmouth Port, MA USA | 04/26/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This production of Aida should, unlike small children, be heard but not seen. One imagines that, having paid for Mr. Pavorotti, La Scala had insufficient funds for sets and costumes. The triumphal march was a travesty. Glorious singing indeed, but I already have a wonderful CD; I was hoping for a fine, or at least good performance. Not here."
Great Singing, Poor Dancing, but Nevertheless a Good Buy
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I immensely enjoyed this performance it gets only 4 stars from me because of poor ballet. Aida earned the appellation as the grandest of all grand operas from a synthesis of Verdi's brilliant music and arias, sumptuous sets, ornate costumes, and some elaborate and cherished ballet. All of the ingredients are present excepts the last in this La Scala production. The Nubian Slaves Dance in Act II Scene I was the lamest I've ever seen. A group of kids were given the choreographic directions to run onto the set, meander in random directions, and then scurry off like roaches running under a refrigerator when the kitchen lights are switched on. Perhaps they were distracted by the gratuitous nudity contained in this scene. The Grand March wasn't particularly grand nor much of a march. Mostly it consisted of shuffling impressive scenery in the background and raising obelisks which seemed more likely to induce motion sickness than awe. The ballet that occurred in this scene resembled pigeons waiting in a public square for bread crumbs. In most of the performances of Aida that I've seen Radames makes his entry in Act II on a chariot being drawn by real horses but Luciano Pavarotti was toted on by people power. And, of course, some legendary productions featured elephants and giraffes. Even though the livestock and dancers had the day off I would still highly recommend this DVD to anyone. First, the principles were magnificent. The promo states that the Milan audience gave Pavarotti a 2 minute ovation after "Celeste Aida". He certainly deserved it with a masterful performance that you would expect from the biggest name in opera. He alone is worth the purchase. Maria Chiara gave a solid performance as Aida but the performer that had me jumping out of my Lazy Boy and wildly applauding the TV set was Ghena Dimitrova as Amneris. She stole the whole show in the Judgment scene. Second, you can't beat this price. The DVD costs less than all but the bargain basement CDs. You get both audio and video on one disk. With CDs you've got at least 2 and as many as 4 disks to feed into the machine. In summary, all of the principles gave superb performances with masterful singing and acting and first rate orchestral accompaniment under the direction of Lorin Mazel. But if you want to see the Grand March and the dance sequences as they should be delivered get the Met production with Levine and Domingo: That's Grand Opera. If only it were available on DVD. I wish there were more operas on DVD. But there is such a heavy investment in Laser Disks that we'll have to wait. When I saw my first opera on DVD I gave up on hub caps."
An Aida to treasure.
Plaza Marcelino | Caracas Venezuela | 06/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A cast like this is practically impossible to find or replicate today. Pavarotti and Dimitrova were in their prime (the latter would "progress" to the Aida rôle shrotly afterwards) and Maria Chiara, in spite of a tentative start, amply shows that she still was in very fine form, her portrayal soon growing into a warmth and securenes seldom seen. The Ronconi production was spectacular and shed some of the traditions that tended to be the norm (like dancing, remember the ballets were asked for by Verdi to accomodate Parisian tastes when the original production moved from Cairo to Europe) and thence you will encounter the ballet music firstly to accomodate pranks by kids who brusquely interrupt the languor and peacefulness of Amneris's bath, and later to accompany some heavy labouring by slaves in the triumphal scene. Mazzel's conducting is precise and to the point, the La Scala orchestra irreproachable as is also the very idiomatic chorus. And what's more, to have Ghiaurov, Buchuladze and Pons to support Pavarotti, Chiara and Dimitrova as Amonasro, the Paraoh and Ramfis was a splendid luxury only a theatre like La Scala could attract. The opera was recorded live some 15 years ago and, along with the Met's rival version with Millo and Domingo on a DG dvd, belong in any collection. You can't go wrong with either, although I'd slightly prefer this La Scala production, in spite of the lack of ballet criticised by some colleague reviewers. And don't mind the (for me unobtrusive) nudity that accompanies the Amneris' bath scene: after all, it's only natural that people undress to bathe!"
Fine Voices, Good Performance
Weike Tao | Galveston, TX USA | 03/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the viewer from Stone Mountain, Georgia, that this opera was a great performance as far as orchestra, chorus, and voices are concerned. Ghena Dimitrova as Amneris is absolutely superb. Pavarotti's voice is top notch as you can imagine, but his acting is kind of stiff. Maria Chiara sounds fine, although I think Birgit Nilsson is my favorite with a brighter voice. Many people criticize the slave dance (Act II) with nudity, I agree. The triumphant scence is obscured with gigantic props, with made the stage too crowded and clumpsy - La Scala's stage is just simply not big enough. There are occasional noises from back stage and the audience, but it may be inevitable.Overall, this is a time masterpiece, a good buy."