WORKS: Aida (sung in English)
PERFORMER: Jane Eaglen, Dennis O’Neill, Rosalind Plowright, Alastair Miles, Gregory Yurisich; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3074(2)
This Aida would be exciting to encounter in the theatre, but next to classic recordings of Verdi’s thrilling score the attractions of these discs are a little more limited. Of course, devotees of Peter Moores’s Opera in English project will not want to miss this (the Edmund Tracey translation is used), surely one of the best in the series to date. Admirers of the cast will also want it, though where Jane Eaglen is concerned I’m afraid to say that — despite star billing — she is the least fine thing here. Her Aida is certainly grand, but somewhat fixed and inexpressive, and the top of her voice is not in good shape. Too much Wagner?
Otherwise this is a vivid cast. Rosalind Plowright is an occasionally squally Amneris, but gives a dramatic, big-voiced performance of a kind rare today given with (even more rare) very precise words. Dennis O’Neill has the heft and sweetness of tone for Radames; the ending of ‘Celeste Aida’, though as soft as it should be, sounds decidedly unnatural. Gregory Yurisich is a commanding Amonasro, and with such singers as Alastair Miles (Ramfis) and Peter Rose (King) in smaller parts the casting is impressive. David Parry and the Philharmonia evoke the unique tinta immediately, and move through the score with swift propulsion. John Allison