CAST: Aida: Kristin Lewis, Radames: Andrea Bocelli, Amneris: Veronica Simeoni, Amonasro: Ambrogio Maestri, Sommo sacerdote: Carlo Colombara
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Zubin Mehta, conductor
This recording of Verdi’s Aida had immediately imposed itself to the attention of many of us, especially because Andrea Bocelli sings Radames.
I will begin with him, then. Generally, I never liked his performances as opera singer very much, but this time I have to say that his Radames is better than I expected and, alongside with some defects, I found also some positive aspects. I noted in particular that his high notes tremble and that in his singing there are some old-fashioned habits. Therefore, the beginning of Celeste Aida is not so impressive and (still in the famous aria) there are moments where the tenor is in difficulty, as in “nel mio pensiero”, where he is obliged to slow down. On the other hand, Bocelli is impressing with the beautiful expression of “del mio pensiero tu sei regina” and the thrilling high note of “un trono vicino al sol”, which ends with a marvellous pianissimo.
Kristin Lewis as Aida do not seem to possess a great voice, because sometimes she disappears behind the orchestra. Her low notes, anyway, sometimes are not well audible (as in Ritorna vincitor, “dal mio labbro uscì l’empia parola”), while in her high notes she seems to have reached the limit of her voice. Her expression too suffers from these defects. For example, in her duet with Amneris, “Tu sei felice, tu sei possente” she becomes too moaning and her phrasing in “Ah pietà che più mi resta?” etc. is scholastic.
As for Amneris, there are two things we can immediately appreciate in Veronica Simeoni: her beautiful voice and the delicate attention she reserves to any note. This singer is remarcable especially for her sweet and elegant phrasing. In the duet with Radames (Act I), she is extraordinary effective in a suspecting “O guai se un altro amore” and “Vieni, o diletta, appressati” in the next terzetto actually becomes distrustful and less inviting of what it seems. Nonetheless, I have to remark some difficult in her low notes. Finally, the trial scene is amazing (her “Anatema” is thrilling).
Ambrogio Maestri, the renowned Falstaff, sings Amonasro with a wonderful, firm and expressive voice (note “a costoro ti rivolgi clemente” addressed to the King in Act II). In his duet with Aida (Act III), Maestri is impressive, even if not overwhelming, but I have to say that this is the only remark I will make about him.
Finally, I remember the good performances of Carlo Colombara (Ramfis), whose voice is beautiful and deep as required by a Gran Sacerdote, and of the excellent Giorgio Giuseppini (the King).
The Orchestra and Chorus of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino are in good shape and Zubin Mehta’s conduction is quite good, even though he does not offer any new idea.