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I think it is quite brave of Chandos to issue another famous opera in English. The sad thing about it, especially if hearing it in English is supposed to make the experience more fulfilling for English speaking audiences is we understand even less of the words than we do when we hear it in Italian. This has been my major complaint with all their opera in English recordings. I may as well have listened to them in the original language, for I would have gotten more out of them. Opera singers these days cannot sing clearly in English at all. Yet, I have recordings from back in the ancient days of recording and the singers sang with flawless English, even if it was NOT their language. Again, it all related to the super clear diction that was part of their training and has been lost today with the desire for perfectly poised sound. Even clear diction in the native language of the opera (in this case Italian) is more often than not muddled these days. I just watched a PBS airing of Renee Fleming singing Strauss' Four Last Songs, and she may as well have told us she was vocalizing the melodies, for not one word was understandable. We, as listeners, are becoming too complacent and allowing poor performances because we concentrate only on pretty sound and not the message being conveyed.
In this recording, the message is conveyed by no one.
I have noticed that nearly all the reviews of this recording have nothing whatever to do with this recording. The longest one is really of a reissuing of a recording with Nilsson and Corelli and is sung in Italian. Really, Amazon must be more careful in allowing reviews that are of different products (the wrong products) to be listed as they mislead the public.Read more ›
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This is another creditable addition to the opera in English canon of Chandos. It is certainly no small undertaking and it's also strikingly brave to attempt an opera recorded so frequently and by all the greatest singers. By and large, this recording works, though it's not without its flaws. Diction is fair-to-middling. The translation has its moments but often extra syllables get added or swallowed. I've not previously regarded English as an awkward or unmusical language (and I have heard other Verdi in English)which makes me think the translation is not ideal. The orchestra and chorus are pretty impressive, not earth-shattering, and David Parry perhaps drives things somewhat relentlessly. There's a little untidiness in some of the ensembles, but the Act 2 finale builds up a fine head of steam. And the singers? Well, Jane Eaglen is clearly the draw of this set and I must say she makes a decent fist of a challenging part. Particularly challenging for a heavy Wagner voice as it lies high and requires a lot of floated notes above the stave. She succeeds better than other big voices I have heard in this music, and if the top C in "O Patria Mia" is flat by a whisker, the aria is sung with appealing melancholy. Elsewhere she lets rip to thrilling effect. Eaglen isn't a touching or vulnerable Aida, but she is an impressive and intruiguing one. O'Neill has led the field as Radames for some time, and he demonstrates his mastery of the role here, even if the wobble in the voice is becoming difficult to ignore. A lovely B flat in "Celeste Aida" - again, more glamorous singers have failed where O'Neill succeeds. Plowright still has some gorgeous, firm and fruity tone in the middle to upper part of the voice.Read more ›
It's good to have a new recording of Aida in English. Unfortunately, this project has been spoilt by a major flaw, and that is the casting of Jane Eaglen in the title part. Not only is Miss Eaglen's performance cool and dispassionate, her voice often turns ugly above the stave. Her performance leaves much to be desired both vocally and dramatically. O'Neill is a good Radames and Plowright, having turned to the mezzo repertoire, is a vivid Amneris. The other roles are adequately taken and the orchestral playing is good without being remarkable. Anyway, a recording of Aida without a proper Aida cannot be recommended. Thus, I can only award it with 2 stars.
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