PERFORMER: Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Piero Cappuccilli, Luigi Roni, Nicola Marinucci, Esther Casas; Royal Opera Chorus; New Philharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 640 6302
Verdi’s most celebrated opera has rarely been recorded with as much consistency as in Riccardo Muti’s 1974 set, founded on the playing of what was then his New Philharmonia Orchestra. They supply music-making of alternate sensuousness and warlike determination, with Muti shaping the cut and thrust of the score with a blend of fluidity and electricity.
Montserrat Caballé’s Ethiopian slave-girl is tender, subtle and often thrilling. By her side, her rival Fiorenza Cossotto’s Egyptian princess Amneris is sinuous yet simultaneously sumptuous. Plácido Domingo is in golden voice as the love-struck warrior Radames and Piero Cappuccilli makes a stern and implacable Amonasro. The crucial secondary roles of the high priest Ramfis (Nicolai Ghiaurov) and the Egyptian king (Luigi Roni) are both cast from strength.
Presented in imaginative sound, the varied and receding perspectives of Verdi’s complex on- and off-stage sound-world are vividly defined. Most recordings of the opera have a weakness here or there; this has none. George Hall