Thursday, 10 October 2013

Opera ABC: Verdi Aida

10th October 2013 marks the 200th year since Verdi's birth. To commemorate his birth, this post features an incredible star studded version of one of Verdi's great operas, Aida including Maria Callas' E-flat historic moment. Aida is the first opera to feature on this blog and will be the first in an Opera ABCs page. This post is also my 50th blog post, so little happy dance.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is one of the most famous opera composers. His most popular operas include Rigoletto, Macbeth, La Traviata, Falstaff and his grand opera, Aida. Aida is a four act opera which is essentially an ancient Egyptian love story between Egyptian military commander, Radamès, and Ethiopian princess, Aida. For a synopsis see Wikipedia.

Verdi Aida Montserrat Caballe, Placido Domingo, Riccardo Muti

There are a number of excellent versions available, including those conducted by Solti (Price, Vickers), Karajan (Tebaldi, Bergonzi), Maazel (Pavarotti) and Serafin (Callas, Tucker). My favourite recording includes star cast Montserrat Caballe, Placido Domingo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Piero Cappuccilli and Nicolai Ghiaurov accompanied by the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti. The recorded sound is clear and deep with a good balance between the soloist and the orchestra. Montserrat Caballé is excellent as Aida, giving the role the required drama. She is exquisite in her trademark hushed moments. Placido Domingo, singing the role of Radamès, is consistently good with his superbly dramatic voice. The many duets between the two lead singers are simply amazing.

The below youTube video features an historic operatic moment: Maria Callas in Aida, live from Mexico City in 1951, singing the stunning high E-flat at the end of Act II (held for 7 seconds). Absolutely thrilling.

Links to the recording:


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