Highlights Of A Great Recording: "Celeste Aida" !!!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album offers only excerpts and highlights from the RCA label recording starring Placido Domingo, Leontine Price, Grace Bumbry, Sherill Milnes and conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. It is the ultimate Aida on record, eventhough critics continue to snub it. They obviously have no ears for opera. Opera must not only sound gorgeous, it must be dramatic. It must move the audience to tears, the story must haunt the audience long after the curtain has come down. In Verdi's Aida, we get a grand opera of epic proportions and passionate emotion. The perfection of this recording is found in the virtuosic singers in the cast. Eventhough many critics dislike Erich Leinsdorf conducting, I find it to be remarkable. Make this one of your very first Aidas and then buy the full-length opera with this exact same cast. It is the best of all recordings but if you must, and this doesn't cut it for you, try the Jon Vickers/Leontine Price/Rita Gorr edition... Placido Domingo/Caballe/Cossoto edition or the more classic Franco Corelli/Birgit Nilsson edition. Certainly the pairing of Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli in Aida delivers a mind-blowing performance.
Placido Domingo and Leontine Price: At the time this recording was made, Domingo and Price were enjoying immense success at the Met. Their partnership in Aida, especially, was legendary at the Met. It was the late 60's and these singers had a repertoire of opera still in its blossom. Domingo's career would continue until the 90's!! For him, other virtuosic tenor roles would follow- Othello, Manrico in Trovatore, Alfredo in Traviata, Andrea Chenier, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, Calaf in Turandot, Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Romeo in Gounod's Romeo et Juliet and Gounod's Faust, Mozart's Idomeneo. The list goes on and on. It seems Domingo has taken on every tenor role in the opera universe!! As Radames, he is more of a noble romantic prince than a hot-blooded macho Egyptian warrior. Franco Corelli's performance as Radames is effectively heroic and masculine as is Jon Vickers. True, Domingo has a lighter more lyrical sound. But the high "top" is there and the dark, rich middle and lower registers are there. He can caress lines and exclaim loudly with ease and grace. His version of "Celeste Aida" is truly the best, setting the bar high. It's superior to the showy and superfluous Pavoratti, no offense. It's more romantic and ballad-like which it should be since he is describing his love for Aida. He's not saying "I killed a hundred men!". He is showing his sensitive side. His Tomb Scene with Leontine Price is incredible. Leontine Price is the ultimate Aida- passionate, tormented and dramatic. Just listen to how she masters the aria "O Patria Mia" which is a blaze of glory and her dramatic duet with the Pharaoh (Sherill Milnes) is electrifying.
Grace Bumbry And Sherill Milnes: They are perfect in their roles. Amneris is often diminished to a jealous diva/princess, a scheming bitch, a catty and even villainous woman. But even Verdi intended for us to feel sympathy for her as many of her arias are beautiful and lyrical. Grace Bumbry brings a dignity and class to the role, a subtle beauty that although not at the goddess level of Leontine Price, is remarkably gorgeous. Her rich mezzo soprano voice shines in the lyrical passages and provide the character with pathos. She is capable of making leaps into the soprano range and she uses this effectively in the more dramatic scenes, such as the finale. With Aida and Radames entombed alive, she tries in vain to stop the forces of the Pharaoh, raining down curses on them, and is apparently distressed. She manages to sound as dramatic as even Leontine Price. Her plaintive last words "Pace Pace" "Peace..peace" are breathtakingly beautiful and hautning. Bass/baritone Milnes as the Pharaoh is appropriately noble, regial and majestic. He sounds fatherly and compassionate but when betrayed, he becomes furious and heartless, even to Radames whom he had previously admired. The role suits Sherill Milnes perfectly. This is the best Aida I've heard. Please hear it for yourself."
Spendid! Absolutely Magnificent!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leontyne Price is without question the soprano of the century and the greatest Aida of all time. The tenor of the century, Placido Domingo, and the soprano of the century, Leontyne Price, blend uncomparable vocal talents for the most spectacular Aida ever to be performed."