|Franco Zeffirelli||Director,Set Decoration/Design|
|Source:||Tdk Dvd Video|
|Sound:||[stereo, DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]|
Making of Aida
OK, you never heard of any of the leading singers, or of the conductor, for that matter. Don't be put off. This is a really beautiful interpretation of Aida by a cast of very well trained and coached young (20-something) singers. The production is staged in the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi (a small theater in Busseto, Italy, Verdi's home town) in the 100th anniversary year of the composer's death. If you're familiar with Zeffirelli's previous theatrical and film productions, you'll be surprised by his new Aida. For Busseto's small stage, he has designed and directed an intimate opera. The spectacle of the (foreshortened) ''Triumphal'' scene is downplayed; the focus is on personal interactions and private emotions. In some of Zeffirelli's grander productions (especially his opera films) he has sometimes devised actions that contradict music and text, but in this staging he hits right notes in every scene. For example, at the conclusion of the Nile scene, Radames facilitates Aida and Amonasro's excape by barring the path of the pursuing guards. Although it seems an obvious thing for him to do, I've never seen it staged that way before. All the singers were coached in their roles by Zeffirelli and by Carlo Bergonzi (the great tenor, now in his 70s) and it shows. Tenor Scott Piper begins with an interpretation of ''Celeste Aida'' that is just about perfect (even though his voice is not quite so secure as those of more seasoned singers). Although he seems to tire vocally toward the end, his performance is musical and sensitive throughout. Soprano Adina Aaron and mezzo Kate Aldrich are vocally stronger and are nearly ideal in both sound and appearance. (Apparently, all three principals are American!) Ms. Aldrich, in particular, seems to possess a major vocal talent, as does Enrico Giuseppi Iori (Ramfis). I'm not throwing away my La Scala or Metropolitan Opera versions, but I'm glad I have this one.