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Bill White
Fanfare, September 2012

This Blu-ray disc is from the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 2011. The austerity era had already begun in Italian opera houses before this production was realized, but the artistic team has managed to provide a fine-looking finished product with sets and costumes…

Musically, the Maggio Musicale forces perform pretty well. The orchestra and Mehta are old hands at this score and they play it in fine fashion. The chorus is large for Aida and this one sounds very good…Italian tenor Marco Berti as Radamès and Chinese soprano Hui He as Aida also have plenty of experience with the roles…Both are gifted performers…Berti is a good tenor with an Italianate ping…Hui He is a fine vocal actress and carries much of the opera. She has all the voice necessary for the role…Mezzo-soprano Luciana d’Intino’s voice is no more than adequate for the role of Amneris and her acting skills are rudimentary. The smaller male roles—the king, the priest, and the father—are all performed solidly, with a special nod to Ambrogio Maestri’s quite well-sung Amonasro.

There are three or four other Blu-ray versions of Aida now on the market, none of which I have seen. For my tastes I believe this traditional production will be more enjoyable than either the Carlo Rizzi- or Daniele Gatti-led releases reviewed recently in Fanfare…I am happy to add this to my collection and I recommend it, particularly to those seeking out high-definition operas. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Croan
Opera News, June 2012

VERDI, G.: Aida (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2011) (NTSC) 101598
VERDI, G.: Aida (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2011) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 108040

…a high-powered cast led by Chinese soprano Hui He in the title role and Luciana D’Intino as Amneris, and additional interest centered on the opera debut of Turkish-born film director Ferzan Ozpetek. Mehta’s history with Aida goes back at least to 1966…Forty-five years later, his conducting retains the energy, but now with more attention to color and details. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, April 2012

What bedevils many productions of Aida is the sheer cost of representing an Egyptian type locale, often with pyramids and the like. In this production, from the seventy-fourth Maggio Musicale Festival in Florence in 2011, the cost is perhaps more limited by designer Dante Ferretti’s ubiquitous use of large statues and heads. The production is the opera debut of Turkish film producer Ferzan Ozpetek who plays it very straight, no oddball concepts from him. He strays from a wholly traditional presentation only in a couple of respects.

It has seemed at times in the last couple of decades as if Verdi singing was in decline. A shortage of spinto-sized voices, and particularly those whose first language is Italian, has bedevilled many an effort. Somehow or other, that is not a problem here. Whilst the Radamès of Marco Berti may not have the ideal figure du part to excite a young woman, his tenor rings out with a free top. He even sings softly from time to time and his phrasing is generous and sensitive too in Celeste Aida (CH. 5). As his would-be lover, far eastern soprano Hui He is a revelation. She encompasses the demands of Ritorna Vincitor (CH.10) with pleasing warm tone, expression and variation of dynamics. The high note in O patria mia (CH.32) is taken with absolute security. As her royal adversary for Radamès’ love, Luciana D’Intino’s lustrous mezzo is sonorous, even and powerful in the trial scene as she prowls outside the venue, pleads with the priests and then Radamès and nearly tears her hair out as they call on him to plead his cause before condemning him (CHs.40-44). This scene is music-theatre as it is rarely seen today.

Of the lower male voices, Roberto Tagliavini as the King is adequate whilst Giacomo Prestia as the implacable priest Ramfis is sonorous and steady.

The very large chorus sing with that vibrancy and squilla that seems to define Italian opera-house choruses, whatever the nationality of those taking part. The musical performance in the orchestral pit, under the vastly experienced Zubin Mehta, fondly remembered for his contribution to that memorable Three Tenors from the Roman Baths at Caracala those years ago, is outstanding. He matures musically like good wine on the palate. It seems that this evening was his 75th anniversary and the cast sing the usual song—a happy moment. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, March 2012

Aida is one of the most famous operas ever performed and is often used as a prime example of so called ‘Grand Opera’ at its best. The lead female role is regarded as great as they come. The solos, many duets and ensembles are regarded as outstanding…Though the vocalists are the stars of this opera, well performed presentations of the ballet and the famous Triumphal March can be stunning. Here they come close with this fine Blu-ray version aided by the visual images. As such the music as presented by the vocalists including the fine chorus and the orchestra are of great importance here. They all are simply excellent and Mehta’s command of the orchestra results in a fine listening experience. Fortunately the recording captures all in a fine Blu-ray recording that is definitely full range and seemingly very low in distortions. For opera lovers, what a great sounding release this is. © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

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