Search - Giuseppe Verdi, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Cristina Gallardo-Domas :: Verdi: Aida - Wiener Philharmoniker / Harnoncourt / Gallardo-DomÔs / La Scola / Borodina / Hampson / Salminen / Polgßr

Verdi: Aida - Wiener Philharmoniker / Harnoncourt / Gallardo-Domâs / La Scola / Borodina / Hampson / Salminen / Polgár
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 »

     
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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

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CD Reviews

Aida as a conversation piece
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."