Giuseppe Verdi, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Cristina Gallardo-Domas Verdi: Aida - Wiener Philharmoniker / Harnoncourt / Gallardo-DomÔs / La Scola / Borodina / Hampson / Salminen / Polgßr Genre:Classical Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Aida is the most elegant and polished version of the opera ever recorded, perhaps ever performed. In no other do you hear so much orchestral detail or playing that's buffed to such a gleaming glow. B... more »ut here, elegance and polish replace a sense of drama and emotional sweep, subverted by Harnoncourt's slow-motion first half. Also needed: great voices with thrust and power. While the recording is lavishly cast, with important singers in minor roles, only one of the four big parts is done with the necessary vocal and dramatic zest: Olga Borodina's stunning Amneris. Hampson's Amonasro is neatly sung, full of an experienced lieder singer's textual nuances, and therefore completely lacking the style or vocal depth of a true Verdi baritone. That leaves the ill-fated lovers, Gallardo-DomÔs's Aida and Lo Scola's Radames, both without the vocal size or splendor to satisfy. With so many excellent Aidas on disc, including Muti-Caballe and Solti-Price, this one will appeal to Harnoncourt's fans, the curious, and Verdians who should hear Borodina's Amneris. --Dan Davis« less
Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Aida is the most elegant and polished version of the opera ever recorded, perhaps ever performed. In no other do you hear so much orchestral detail or playing that's buffed to such a gleaming glow. But here, elegance and polish replace a sense of drama and emotional sweep, subverted by Harnoncourt's slow-motion first half. Also needed: great voices with thrust and power. While the recording is lavishly cast, with important singers in minor roles, only one of the four big parts is done with the necessary vocal and dramatic zest: Olga Borodina's stunning Amneris. Hampson's Amonasro is neatly sung, full of an experienced lieder singer's textual nuances, and therefore completely lacking the style or vocal depth of a true Verdi baritone. That leaves the ill-fated lovers, Gallardo-Domâs's Aida and Lo Scola's Radames, both without the vocal size or splendor to satisfy. With so many excellent Aidas on disc, including Muti-Caballe and Solti-Price, this one will appeal to Harnoncourt's fans, the curious, and Verdians who should hear Borodina's Amneris. --Dan Davis
J. Luis Juarez Echenique | Mexico City | 11/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We will never know how Teresa Stolz and Giuseppe Fancelli (the first La Scala Aida and Radames) sounded like, but in all probability they sounded more like Milanov and Martinelli than Cristina Gallardo-Domas and Vincenzo La Scola.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt's new recording of Aida is not the first to cast such light voices in the leads, Karajan did the same in 1979 for his EMI recording with Freni and Carreras, and if back then it was said that he cast a Rodolfo and a Mimi as Aida and Radames, Harnoncourt chose this time an Adina and a Nemorino.
Gallardo-Domas tries to go deep into Aida's predicaments, but she doesn't have the power for the big, arched phrases in O Patria Mia and abuses her chest notes in Ritorna Vincitor.
There are certainly beautiful things in her singing, but she is not comfortable or secure enough in this very demanding role. Harnoncourt probably hates the traditional loud, big voices that Italians love so much in la Arena di Verona or Caracalla, but spinto sopranos can be found who can sing softly and musically too: Leontyne Price, Zinka Milanov and Renata Tebaldi were as musical and refined as Gallardo-Domas and far more secure and even in their delivery. Vincenzo La Scola suffers alarmingly in Celeste Aida, where the voice spreads, and his -Sacerdote, Io resto a te- goes unnoticed. On the plus side his diction is excellent (in fact all the singers sing with crystal clear diction, and I guess Harnoncourt had something to do with that) and his interpretation is sincere.
Thomas Hampson as Amonasro is equally light weight (when Harnoncourt conducted Aida in the Zurich Opera House he used Giorgio Zancanaro, and I can't understand why he prefered Hampson for the recording). The encounter between Aida and his father in Act Four with Gallardo-Domas and Hampson sounds rather as the Mimi and Marcello duet in La Boheme. Matti Salminen as Ramfis is alien to the verdian style, but he is certainly not uninteresting, and together with Olga Borodina (as Amneris) he has the large voice needed for the role. In fact la Borodina is such a fine Amneris, singing opulently and gorgeously that Gallardo-Domas and La Scola seem all the more inadequate next to her.
But the best reason to hear this Aida is Harnoncourt's conducting. There is nothing bachian or monteverdian about his interpretation, it is a red blooded and truly verdian reading, full of insights and interesting things to say. The Vienna Philharmonic play like gods for him and the recorded sound is excellent.
It is interesting to compare this new recording with the Levine in SONY made exactly 10 years ago. In spite of conducting Verdi for many, many years, Levine's reading is nowhere as interesting as Harnoncourt's, but the moment Aprile Millo, Placido Domingo, Dolora Zajick and James Morris open their mouths it's obvious what is missing in the new recording. The Amonasro-Aida duet with Millo and Morris take us back to an era of great voices (not merely big) and refinement is not in short supply either.
Still, it would be a pity to miss all the beautiful things that this new Aida has to offer, and considering the state of the recording industry, it will be a long time before we have another and better cast Aida in the market."
Good recording, but not essential...
patrick j mack | 11/14/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was expecting more of this recording. It has Harnoncourt, and you will find some great fresh reinterpretation of some passages, but Aïda is an Opera that depends too much on the singing, and that is the disappointment. Some of the singing is just mediocre, and some is exciting and first class, but that does not make a consistent performance: Gallardo-Domas is making a good effort all the time, but she does not have the voice for Aïda... La Scola is so mediocre that I cannot find why is he singing in this production... Hampson has a very handsome voice and you can really appreciate his singing, and Borodina is just an incredible Amneris (the only reason to buy his set)...
I belive Harnoncourt could have chosen a better Aïda and Radamès for this recording... on the light side, as it happens to be the case... After all, there were big expectations for this recording."
A new sound for aida
patrick j mack | santa monica ca | 10/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i found this recording fascinating on may levels. the casting is
strong and individual if favoring lighter voices, or singers willing to sing lightly.
galardo-domas has a unique tone with a little vinegar on top but everything she does is sincere and more individual than many previous enterpreteurs.
borodina is one of the great amneris's of our generation, a subtle scheamer who later burns a hole through the judgement scene.
hampson is a very lyric amonosro and one who manages his voice well in this context but whose interpretation is hindered by his true lack of italianate tone and a very obvious ( and shocking )american accent.
the real curiosity for many is what harnoncourt will do with this score and with the vienna philharmonic at his disposal. that answer is nothing you have ever heard before. he shows a true baroque sensitivity in the private confrontations and an extraordinary orchestral clarity unlike anything i have ever heard, the ballets we all normally skip over are hypnotizing. showing no fear of verdi's triple fortes and with telarc's normally superb engineering the judgement scene really moves the floor for anyone with a good sub-woofer. also this is the first recording where you could take dictation from the chorus.
on the minus side, vincenzo la scola fights an often losing
battle with the role of radames and sounds at times as if he wandered in from a neighboring production of ' the magic flute'. not bad but a serious liability at times.since this is the first major recording of aida in over a decade we have much to be grateful for and nothing wrong with having a performance swept clean of all it's musical 1950's - MGM excesses."
Great Aida in Gallardo- Domas' performance!!
Daniel G. Madigan | Redmond, WA United States | 10/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Aida has an unusual conductor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who never deals with Verdi or Bel Canto, and it shows. He treats the score as if it were an opera with a stage "banda", ignoring the climax of the opera,Oh Patria, quanto mi costi", and conducting things in an ooom pah fashion that cuts into the verismo aspects of this piece.That aside, you have Christina Gallardo-Domas as Aida, and what a find. She has been on CD before in Puccini's Suor Angelica for EMI and I wondered what would she sing next; she was so exciting in that latter role. She chose this big part and she is excellent; her voice is pure and solid and round and she has the breath control of Price and the drama of Callas..so much to give, and she gives her all. She is partnered by Vincenzo La Scola as Radames, who is good, but not Domingo in any of his manifestations of this role. La Scola's voice is too small, and in the crucial duet with Aida, he doesn't have the volume or range to hit hard and high that fatal word for all tenors who sing this part,"brilleranno". Domas goes right for it, and up and over the top ala Price or Callas or Caballe..but Domas sounds so new and different, even if you think Caballe or Price are "better". Try this set and be amazed at this great voice!The rest of the cast is excellent, except for Thomas Hampson's Amonasro, which is too light and too slow, especially in the declamation part of his duet with Aida. One feels him marking the text, as with Thais, and other dramatic roles he takes on. He is a Lieder singer really, or for Mozart, not for Verdi or Massanet or Puccini..he does not have the Italianate style or the voice for Italian itself. But, he is very effective in places, but Robert Merrill or Leo Nucci are better in this part, or S. Milnes..the large baritone sound with big high notes and beautiful solid registers for all the demands Verdi makes.
Then there is Olga Borodina. who has sung Amneris many times on the Russian stage, and she is wonderful, with such feeling for phrases soft and harsh, and while not a chest note singer, she is effective always. She could bear down more on " figlia di Faraoni" in her duet with Aida, but her climactic "Empia razza!!" is excellent..it makes you immdeiately want to repeat the section again.Also of great merit is her "Io stessa lo gatai.." after the duet with Radames..the cellos are wonderful and she, full of pathos and suffering over what she has done to Radames.The final duet between Aida and Radames is very dramatic, except for La Scola's rise to the word "Raggio". Not loud enough or secure enough...it needs to be soft yet full, heavy with grief but mellow and sweet..it takes a Domingo or Pavarotti here, or Carreras. But, nothing is sharp in this set or off pitch or impossible to listen to..great art by Verdi matched by servers of his art in Domas and Borodina particularly. Buy this and enjoy, but don't overlook Callas's pirated recording from Mexico City with drama to spare and a high e flat at the close of the Triumphal Scene. Also, Ricciarelli and Domingo in the Abbado seton Deutsche Grammaphone;the triumphal Scene , the vocal part, is so intense, it has to be heard by all fans of this opera.Buy the Harnoncourt, and let the music flow(Harnoncourt is very right in slowing down the music where Abbado for example rushes as does Muti..so there are compensations."
Wonderfully fresh recording of an old favorite
AlexN963 | New York City | 04/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording reexamines Verdi's Aida by casting it with mostly smaller lyrical voices, and using a smaller orchestra. Thus, this is not the classic Aida sound and should not be your first recording of this opera. However, it would make a great second Aida recording, and would make a great addition to your collection.
This is the first major label Aida in many years, and it takes advantage of modern recording technology to bring superb recorded sound quality. I like Vincenzo La Scola as Radames. He has a bright lyrical tenor voice with great diction, which would probably not hold up too well in a big house, but fits into this recording perfectly. The Aida is sung by Christina Gallardo-Domas who is equally great with wonderful legato control, but like La Scola, she would have a hard time with the role in a live performance. The star here is Olga Borodina as Amneris. She is one of my absolute favorite singers today and she shows why on this set. Her large voice is different from the rest of the leads and she tends to be overpowering at times, but it still sounds great. Thomas Hampson is a real low point, as he is simply not a Verdi baritone, and does not sound patronly enough. The great Wagnerian basso Matti Salminen, who is a long time collaborator with Harnoncourt, is a real treat as Ramphis. He easily has the largest voice on this set, and he brings a lot to this recording even with such a small role. He is especially great when sentencing Radames in Act IV. The orchestra's playing under Harnoncourt is bright and clear. And, credit must be given to the rock-solid chorus.
This is a great overall recording. I dismiss the argument that the recording is underpowered, if you want it to sound bigger, just turn up the volume. If you are new to Aida, I recommend first getting the wonderful Met DG DVD, and than go with this.