Verdi: Aida

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Aida
WORKS: Aida
PERFORMER: Cheryl Studer, Luciana D’Intino, Dennis O’Neill, Alexandru Agache, Robert Lloyd, Mark Beesley, John Marsden, Yvonne Barclay; Royal Opera House Chorus & Orchestra/Edward Downes; dir. Elijah Moshinsky (London, 1994)
CATALOGUE NO: OA R3104 D
This DVD of a distinguished account of Verdi’s grand opera from 1994 has a great deal to recommend it, yet in the end I’m not sure that it manages to avoid cliché or the sense that the work has gone slightly stale, for all its fine moments. The sets are extremely simple, the costumes elaborate; and there is none of the empty gaudiness that the ceremonial scenes invite. Yet the style of acting is of the old, eyeball-rolling variety. That is especially true of Luciana D’Intino, who is a powerful and sometime touching Amneris, yet comes near to parody in her colloquies with Aida and Radames. Though diminutive, Dennis O’Neill is a fine hero: he sings with a variety of colour and acts with minimal but effective gestures. Cheryl Studer was at her peak in 1994, and sings Aida magnificently, while also verging on ham. Mark Beesley looks more like Amneris’s younger brother than her father, and his singing is insecure. Alexandru Agache is a wild-eyed Amonasro, who nonetheless triumphs over a costume and make-up that would annihilate a lesser artist. Edward Downes is the experienced, vigorous conductor, and the orchestra plays superbly. But Elijah Moshinksy somehow didn’t quite manage to avoid the obvious pitfalls. Michael Tanner

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