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In the opening Celeste Aida, Berti pours forth in a timbre with just the right amount of squillo and lyricism that one seldom hears these days (for the past decade). Here and there, very sparingly, one tight high note creeps in, but only fleetingly and undamagingly. Here is a true Verdian tenor, who luckily, has his voice 'saved' until his 50th year (he's born in 1962 January) for the real big roles and who has not 'squandered' his vocal goods in the earlier years. He is now truly ripe for the Verdian roles like Radames in 'Aida', Gustavo in 'Un Ballo', Mantua in 'Rigoletto', Ernani, Steffilio, if not Alfredo in 'La Traviata' or Manrico in 'Il Trovatore'. One certainly hope that Berti can be more dramatically alert in his acting, but with a good director, such is not impossible.
Hui He as Aida is fully convincing and dramatically affecting. As one commentary has it - her Nile scene is so passionately rendered that the water of the Nile simply simmers. Here is a Verdian soprano singing in her absolute prime. It is trite to note that the entire Act III of this recording is being dominated by her Aida, with Maestri and Berti in singularly capable partnerships with her in turn: Maestri vocally as well as dramatically; Berti vocally if not dramatically.
The production does not focus merely on the grandiose of this work - it focuses on the humane side and indirectly denounces military biligerance.
A highly recommended DVD of Verdi's masterpiece.
In the major supporting role, Amneris is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, who reprises this role since the late 1980's with Cheryl Studer as Aida.
While Hui He may not be most verbally incisive Aida, her performance here sets her way above many other lyrical spinto sopranos who have undertaken this role: Maria Chiara, Cheryl Studer, Violetta Urmana, and more lately Sondra Radvanovsky, though not yet recorded.
Hui He's impassioned performance of this role is fully enhanced by her shimmering lirico spinto voice, which is fully lyrical without the slightest edginess that marrs other spinto sopranos like Urmana and Radvanovsky. Yet her timbre is at the same full-bodied and rich throughout all registers, which is a real marvel. Her duet with the veteran D'Intino is the first bit of evidence of her seemingly endless vocal prowess, and her Nile scene culminating in her great rendition of 'O Patri Mia' is outright the greatest rendition heard since the days of Monseratt Caballe who recorded this role for Ricardo Muti in the early 1980's.
Her duet with Amonasro is the third piece of concrete evidence of her fully convincing portrayal of the emotionally torned Aida. The final death scene with Radames on the other hand witnesses her superb lyricism in this role after a full-length emotionally-charged performance of Aida.
As Radames, Marco Berti has all the vocal goods - squillo, pitch and range.Read more ›
It is a challenging task to review the singing honestly without coming across as mean-spirited and/or boring, so I'll pass. Body mikes were used and everything in the orchestra pit is spot miked, so there is no sense of a coherent, continuous space and you don't get a feeling of the hall ambiance or of "being there". The sets are traditional but the costumes are a confusion of style from anywhere but ancient Egypt (Nepal? Mongolia? I think I even detected Aztecs). There are miles of colorful fabric on stage, not counting footwear, headgear and endless various accessories. The prevailing color is blue - this was nicknamed "Blue Aida" when it first appeared in the Verdi Festival in 2005. The direction is static - the singers engage in solemn, stereotypical postures (or are just on their own, there is little acting). There is absolutely no dramatic tension or development; it's all flat and lifeless. The conductor is useless. Even the gods expressed their disapproval by causing an earthquake the day of the prima - it lasted about 30-40 seconds, a magnitude of 4.9, strong shaking.
This release may have one practical use: to be used as a tool to diagnose tone deafness. One of the leads has the worst intonation I've ever heard (among other serious problems). He/she is sometimes flat by more than a quartertone, a few times by almost half a tone! That means he/she sometimes hits closer to the next note down instead of to the right one, and this is easy to spot because it happens in loud, exposed singing. All twenty-four major and minor scales have half tone intervals, so if you are unable to spot this singer you may be tone deaf.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you can listen to Aida and not be moved by the music, something is wrong. As mentioned in the other reviews, the acting is lacking in this production. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Chris Reich
Here we go again: the preceding single review simply demolishes this performance, everything is bad, nothing is good. Read morePublished on August 27, 2013 by dongiovanni