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Verdi - Aida

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This DVD features the high-profile new production from La Scala in Milan, filmed before Roberto Alagna's sensational departure! This is the operatic event of 2006, following Roberto Alagna's exit from the production during the second performance. Spectacular new production by veteran director/designer Franco Zeffirelli has all the luxury, theatricality and opulence one could wish for in this grandest of operas, keeping in tradition and shying away from the minimalist modern intrepretation. French tenor Roberto Alagna was filmed in early performances before his high-profile departure from the production. This alone makes it a must-have DVD for all opera fans! Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana takes on the title role, and the powerful Hungarian mezzo Ildiko Komlosi stars as her rival, Princess Amneris. Riccardo Chailly conducts this stellar cast at La Scala--The Home of Opera.


This December 2006 Aida from La Scala offers some fine singing but as often happens in a Franco Zeffirelli staging, the scenery and directing vie with its purely musical aspects. Little wonder, given the sumptuous sets, spectacular crowd scenes, and the masses of scenic and acting details more common to a movie than a stage performance. Zeffirelli populates the La Scala stage with enough statuary to fill the Egyptian wing of a large museum. Huge busts of Pharaonic figures loom above the singers, a wall covering the back of the stage is full of detailed relief figures drawn from ancient Egyptian relics, and when singers, dancers, chorus, and extras populate the stage during the Triumphal March, it seems like all of Thebes turned out for the celebration. The Nile scene is relatively pared down while neatly suggesting the mystery of the scene and focusing attention on the dramatic confrontations of the principal actors. By the time we arrive at the final tomb scene, the dying hero and heroine are seen through the darkness while above them, the priests and priestesses of the Pharoah’s court invoke their deity. But while the detailed stage direction and sets are important, any Aida requires four world-class singers to make its maximum impact. La Scala, as befits a season-opening performance, fields a worthy crew. Top honors go to the eponymous heroine, for Violeta Urmana demonstrates a soprano voice impressive in its evenness, her ease at the top of her range and her rich bottom notes. She won’t make you forget her famed predecessors in the role, but she’s definitely worth hearing. The same might be said of Roberto Alagna, the Radames. He left the production after the performances filmed here because of audience booing, but aside from a strained Celeste Aida his singing here is quite good, with sensitive phrasing and some lovely soft singing in the Tomb Scene.

The Amneris, Ildiko Komlosi, dominates the stage in her scenes as the imperious Pharaoh’s daughter. Like her rival for Radames’ affections, Aida, she won’t erase memories of other fine Amneris’ but she’s a definite plus in this production. Less so is Carlo Guelphi, the Amonastro, rough of voice and generalized in his singing and acting. Smaller parts are capably done and the La Scala Orchestra is alertly led by Ricardo Chailly. He paces the opera with vigor, exposes details of the score often overlooked, and draws some ravishing playing from the strings.The ballet sequences are done with a Hollywoodish touch that fits the production, but the video direction of Patrizia Carmine will draw some boos from home viewers. There are frequent fades to swirling, out-of-focus details of stage décor, veils and materials, accelerating in later scenes to become annoying distractions, especially since they often occur in mid-aria, sabotaging the musical flow and diverting attention from the singers. Still, this is a worthy production of a great opera.--Dan Davis

Aida is an all-regions 2-disc set in 16:9 ratio. Sound options include PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Surround. Subtitles include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Violeta Urmana, Roberto Alagna, Ildiko Komlosi, Giorgio Giuseppini, Chailly
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, NTSC, Widescreen, DTS Surround Sound, Dolby
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: February 19, 2008
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PC1N54
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,649 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Verdi - Aida" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

And the ceiling shots, forget about those too.
B Keller
Yes, it was hard to appreciate Aida, as portrayed by Violetta, as being someone to risk life and reputation for, but her brilliant singing made me overlook this.
Mr. John A. Coulson
Komlosi's Amneris was wonderful in every respect - vocally, visually, with some fine acting talents.
Maria H. Magoun

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Barry J. James on May 12, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was looking for a modern replacement of my old Met Opera DVD of Aida and, as someone who likes the spectacle of Grand Opera, decided to buy this Franco Zeffirelli directed version from La Scala. I noted that a number of the reviewers had mentioned the superimposed images and fade-ins and fade-outs employed by the director and how much it had annoyed them. However, I thought they were probably being too subjective and I couldn't imagine that a video director would have been given so much of a free hand that it could detract from Zeffirelli's production. How wrong I was! In the triumphal march in Act 2 the stage is full of people, the costumes are opulent, the props are magnificent, the orchestra under Chailly is building up to a climax and yet Patrizia Carmine thinks that she can improve on all of this by adding dissolves through drapes and superimposing close-ups of trumpets; not just once, but again and again.
There is so much to like about this production and I no doubt will watch it occasionally, but it could have been so much better without the interference of the video director. I would go so far as to suggest that all might not be lost and the DVD could possibly be re-released without all the offensive and unnecessary additions. How novel that might be, a non-directors cut of the opera.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Opera Fan on February 11, 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This potentially wonderful production has been ruined by inappropiate zooming, transitions, panning, close-ups of performers and even horns. The video editing is dreadful and distracts from the beauty of the performers and the performance. This DVD could be used in a course for videographers and producers as an example of "How not to do it".
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 5, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Although there is an intimate and tragic love story at its heart, Aida is set against the exotic background of the Egypt of the Pharaohs, and is full of patriotic, nationalistic sentiments, as the Egyptian army prepare to go to war to fight off a revolt by the Ethiopians. It's a perfect subject, in other words, for Verdi, and it was undoubtedly the nature of the storyline, much more than any commission for the new opera house in Cairo (which he repeatedly refused) or the grand occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal, that encouraged him to return to opera composition in 1871, and he would return in style with a magnificent work.

Considering its origins and its setting - whether it was composed for a grand occasion or not - Verdi's Aida is appropriately stately in its expressions of nationalistic pride and identity, with extravagant marches, battle hymns, ceremonial processions and dances. There's no point in doing Aida in a minimalist style, as Robert Wilson has done in the past (although it's certainly interesting to see something different attempted) - this is an opera that just calls out for a grand scale production. If you haven't got a stage the size of the Arena di Verona, and a director like Franco Zeffirelli to fill it, the nearest grand, traditionally staged Aida you are going to find is this Sonja Frisell production - now over twenty years old - for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

It's a big production in every respect - and yes, I include the size of the singers in this - with towering temples, the stage filled with chorus, troops, dancers and well-tanned, bare-chested slaves, even horses and chariots, all arranged in grand ceremonial processions and formations.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Allan Vanegas on November 18, 2008
Format: DVD
Beautiful Aida production by Zefferelli at La Scala Milan. This production is a little over done but beautifully set. The singers are amazing except that I found Alagna's infamous aria "Dolce Aida" to be sung in an almost forced and yelling voice. So far, I have just watched the Acts 1&2 first DVD, and so far I can tell you that you will be dissapointed by the anoying fading of pictures throught the video. This is done in a manner that you want to scream and say stop doing that!!!Just focus on the characters and lets enjoy the performance in a way that a seating patron there was enjoying it. By, the way the ballet at the end of Act 2 was very sexy and beautifully danced. 4 stars for the singing 5 stars for the ballet and 5 star for the sets and costumes. 0 star for the video direction.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Kreutzer on December 6, 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I have over 100 opera and ballet DVD/BR's that I watch on a projected screen about 7' 8" wide and listen through a 7.1 loudspeaker setup where the left and right speakers are about 9' 6" apart. The room has sound treatments. The goal is to make the viewing experience as if I was there in a middle seat in one of the front rows.

My collection includes the 1989 Aida from the Met with Domingo and Millo as well as a 2004 open air performance from St. Margarethen, Austria with Suemegi and Andreev.
I thought it was time to replace them with the new Met performance.

This is essentially the same performance as in 1989, same stage setup, costumes and props.
Picture is, of course, a lot better, no complaints here.
Sound is another story.
Soundstage of the DTS 5.1 MA track is not much wider than stereo, just the applause comes also from the sides and not only the front. Orchestra and chorus are o.k., just not very wide.
The voices suffer from variability of the loudness, depending in which direction the principals are singing. At the beginning, it is rather static, everybody faces the front and variability is limited. But as the action picks up, it gets worse. Amonasro (Guelfi) moves his head all the time and he sounds the worst. But it affects pretty much everybody.
The stage microphones are in 4 pairs at the front of the stage, aiming pretty low, I guess to catch the sound when the action is in the back of the stage and the chorus. But for the principals, no good. A dozen names given for the audio, Mix Ken Hahn (from Merry Widow and La Traviata fame).
For comparison, I inserted the 1989 DVD (4:3) of the Met and pretty much the same sound, (stereo only). Soundstage just as wide as the BR, orchestra and chorus o.k., voices just as variable.
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Verdi - Aida
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