Search - Giuseppe Verdi, Herbert von Karajan, Mirella Freni :: Verdi - Aida / Freni ˇ Carreras ˇ Baltsa ˇ Cappuccilli ˇ Raimondi ˇ van Dam ˇ Ricciarelli ˇ Moser ˇ Wiener Phil. ˇ Karajan

Verdi - Aida / Freni · Carreras · Baltsa · Cappuccilli · Raimondi · van Dam · Ricciarelli · Moser · Wiener Phil. · Karajan
Giuseppe Verdi, Herbert von Karajan, Mirella Freni
Verdi - Aida / Freni ˇ Carreras ˇ Baltsa ˇ Cappuccilli ˇ Raimondi ˇ van Dam ˇ Ricciarelli ˇ Moser ˇ Wiener Phil. ˇ Karajan
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #3

For many fans, this opera is mostly about grandeur--it is, of course, the grandest grand opera still in the standard repertoire--and you will want to hear what Herbert von Karajan and the glorious Vienna Philharmonic do wi...  more »


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For many fans, this opera is mostly about grandeur--it is, of course, the grandest grand opera still in the standard repertoire--and you will want to hear what Herbert von Karajan and the glorious Vienna Philharmonic do with the triumphal music. Curiously, the recording that has the strongest claims to grandeur also achieves significant results in the intimate moments. Mirella Freni and José Carreras have pleasant voices and a wide-ranging array of skills based on long and varied experience, but theirs are not big voices, as Montserrat Caballé and Plácido Domingo's are. One expects Freni and Carreras to perform with a certain polish in their love music, but one wonders how well they could handle the big moments outside of a recording studio. Not that it matters in terms of this fine recording. Their partnership, with von Karajan's very able assistance, works like magic. What you hear is what you get. When the opera and chorus take the spotlight, this Aida is an epic about international conflicts that dwarf and doom two lovers from different worlds. But Freni and Carreras react to the story of personal tragedy with a heartbreaking musical and theatrical sensitivity. --Joe McLellan

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CD Reviews

Return Victorious
G. Golding | Seattle, WA | 03/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I think this recording is magnificent. First of all, Karajan is electric in this music. His big moments are huge and his intimate moments are ravishing in beauty and pianissimo. There is a swagger and thrust in the triumphant scene, coupled with stellar singing from the principals and chorus alike that makes me jump up and cheer. I LOVE to singe along with this recording!!!
Despite all that is said of Freni and Carreras in these "big" roles, I think they come off very well. Carreras is not forcing as much as he usually does and sings some wonderful pianissimos along with heroic strength as in the scene with Amneris. Celeste Aida is beautiful, long breathed and slow!
Mirella Freni is my favorite diva with a voice that grew in size and volume as she aged, gradually adding more dramatic roles, as her voice was ready. I saw her in DC in Fedora opposite Domingo and it was one of the biggest voices I have heard! It's a shame that the EMI engineers did not capture her voice as richly and with as much body as some of her other recordings at the time: Faust (also on EMI) Mefistofele, Pagliacci, William Tell. She is creamy toned but the recording captures her in smaller voice than was the case. I find so many special moments in her interpretation that I return to time after time. The high C in the ensemble right before Ritorna Vincitor is flung up with such abandon that it drives me wild. A friend also loves this moment very much and said "surely Verdi would be thrilled with this, as it's SO exciting!" Ritorna Vincitor would later become even more dramatic and ferocious though the tenderness at the close is breathtaking. She handles the ensembles of the triumphal scene masterly and her beautiful lyric/dramatic singing in the final acts are perfect.
Baltsa is hair raising as Amneris, totally on fire with jealousy and love for Radames. Sample her supremely dramatic singing as she pleads for the life of Radames in the second to last scene of the opera. She and Karajan bring white-hot intensity that will perhaps never be matched! This is not an Amneris that I would mess around with!!!
Cappuccilli is magnificently strong as Amonasro singing with beautiful half tones in the triumphal scene contrasted against fortissimo passion in the third act duet with Aida. This is a beautiful voice that can do nearly everything in Verdi's difficult baritone writing.
Buy this opera! You will not be disappointed. Sing along, bask in it, and love it!"
Powerful and organic with glorious singing.
Poul Slot | Denmark | 06/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This Aida is Karajan's second achieve, and is by all means, far better than his first recording on Decca from 1958 containing much of Decca's `dull-house'-cast. Tebaldi is certainly not a great Aida, and all though Simionato and Bergonzi does some good work it just never gets to you. Here in 1979 Karajan is fitted with a far better cast, including two of Karajan favourites Freni and Carreras. Both singing their part for the first time, and were warned about singing these relative large and demanding roles as Aida and Radames. However neither of them lets Karajan down. Freni is as always ardently beautiful singing, but both Caballé (Muti/74) and Leontyne Price (Solti/62 NOT Leinsdorf/70) are slightly better impression of the part of Aida. José Carreras has always followed the title of his own book `Singing with the sole', and here is not any different. Carreras' ability to sing as he means it, and not just as I my self feels with Pavarotti, sings as one would the shower, is always intact. Carreras stretches his voice to the limit, but never over the limit. That is for me quite important, and is probably one of the reasons I worship Carreras as singer. Pavarotti rarely moves me with his singing. It doesn't matter if he sings Cavaradossi or Radames. He sounds the same, and uses the same few `tricks' trying to sound as he means it, but it just isn't enough. I just needed to get that out of the system, since Carreras always is accused of being to small or gets a `nice try' on the way. The fact is, in my opinion that Carreras and Domingo are far superior compared to Pavarotti! Cappucilli sing Amonasro for the second time within 5 years, and it's hard to differ between the scores. Anyhow we have Cappucilli at he's absolute best and along with the American Baryton Robert Merrill (Solti/62) we have the best Amonasro as one can get. Agnes Baltsa is Amneris, and `wow', she just does it for me. She sang in Don Carlos as Eboli little less than a year before, and that was her first major part in an opera. She is dedicated and sings probably the best Amneris on record. Only Zajick on DG's video production with Levine as conductor is slightly better. The flaw in this set is most definitely Ruggero Raimondi. He just doesn't have the authority to make a convincing High Priest. Listen to Ghiaurov in Muti's (EMI/74) instead. That is far more powerful. It should also be mentioned that Katia Ricciarelli sings the very small part of a priestess. Not that it matter a great deal, if any, but if one is Ricciarelli fan, she does a good job. Karajan provides a far richer toned orchestra sound than Muti does it. What is right and what is wrong? That depends in your own taste. They are both very good. I my self prefer Karajan's more `fat' sound and gives the listener a chance to hear a full-blooded sound along with the fine recording sound. The reason that it gets 4 stars is mainly Raimondi's fault. One can also find better singers in almost every role. Not much but anyway is enough. If I have to choose one recording of Aida it would probably be Muti's '74 version on EMI, but they are so close, and if you like Verdi's Aida I can't see any problem in having them both."
The most satisfying Aida recording ever!
Rosomax | Boulder, CO United States | 12/22/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are quite a few recordings of Verdi's masterpiece, but this one surely is in a class of its own. Mirella Freni's powerful yet ever so feminine interpretation of the heroine is remarkable. In "Ritorna Vincitor!" particularly, she displays a full range of Aida's contrasting feelings with splendor. Carreras's romantic and heroic Radames is no less impressive. His velvety tone and fire-striking high notes fit the part as though it was written for him. A true master of Verdian line, Carreras never succumbs to cheap effects and maintains a very real representation of Radames's struggle between love and honor. The whole cast, including supporting characters is first class. Cappuccilli's impressive reading of Amonastro compares favorably to that of Milnes or Bastianini. His prior recording under Muti's conducting was good too, yet this one has a crispier, clearer quality. And Agnes Baltsa's treatment of Amneris makes the king's daughter irresistable. Finally, this cast has Herbert von Karajan, a conductor with a style that appears perfectly suited for this "larger-than-life" opera. The tempos are never sluggish, yet the tension is always evident. In summary, this recording has it all, and it is a must for anyone captivated by the power of opera."