Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi, Callas, De Monaco|
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As great as Callas' Aida gets
Armindo | Greece | 04/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We should be grateful that many Mexico performances from the early 50s have survived and above all, in such decent sound!
This is Callas' best Aida in terms of vocal and dramatic standards. Of course the first thing one should listen is the ringing E flat at the end of the triumphal scene. Probably the most famous soprano show-off moment in the recording history. There is no Baum this time to excuse it, Callas obviously enjoyed its effect and repeated it. Indeed a firework, even better than a year before!
The rest of her singing however proves that this late Verdi role is written for a different instrument. Even the great Callas fan, John Ardoin admits that sustaining notes, high soft ones in particular was never, even at this early stage of her career, Callas' territory. Unfortunately for her, Aida is full of long lines and sustained notes. On the positive side, she was still in her prime and apart from the difficult high C in o patria mia, she sings firmly the rest of the evening. I also noticed that she changed the order of a couple of words in ritorna vincitor, either to assist her vowel transition or simply because she jumped the first word and had to swap them. In the main, I enjoyed her effect in the fearsome bits but she doesn't do much for me in the lyrical ones like the tomb scene. It was a wise decision therefore to abandon the role quickly and the limited success at La Scala when substituting the more qualified Renata Tebaldi speeded up the process.
Del Monaco is here more vulgar and aggressive than on his commercial recording. It is a sound to admire as always but a more subtle approach in a few lyrical moments wouldn't hurt anyone. All the same, this is certainly the sound of a soldier. Taddei's Amonastro is commanding and very well sung while Dominque's first Amneris impresses. What a shame she was overshadowed by Barbieri and Simionato. Olivero de Fabritiis is a highly respectable conductor who supports his singers throughout the performance.
On the whole a fine Aida and by far Callas' best recorded performance of this role. Urania recordings are by the way always highly recommended for their improved sound.