VERDI Aida – Fischer
At last an Aida on DVD that can hold its head high and surpass its lesser rivals. Last year’s production from the Zürich Opera is a traditional one by Nicolas Joël in veteran Ezio Frigerio’s wonderfully evocative, highly coloured sets. Then Adám Fischer in the pit leads a remarkably strong yet subtle account of the score, which – when played and sung like this – is once more revealed as one of Verdi’s greatest masterpieces.
Four of the principals easily surpass their DVD rivals. Stemme offers a deeply considered, expressive and superbly sung Aida, one for whom the work’s vocal perils do not seem to exist. Add to that acting that goes to the heart of the matter, and one is left breathless in admiration after so many sopranos not truly fitted to the part.
Licitra has done nothing better than his Radames here. At last fulfilling his potential, he sings the role with an open-hearted sincerity and a heroic voice up to the part’s exigent demands. He and Stemme make their Act 3 duet the highlight it should be.
D’Intino, an experienced Amneris, sings her role with intense feeling allied to a mezzo of generous proportions. The demands of her Act 4 scena are fully met, and she storms off to a well earned burst of applause. Stemme and Licitra give the final scene with the utmost sensibility. Salminen remains a force to be reckoned with, but Pons – as Amonasro – no longer is the baritone he once was, although dramatically he is up to the part.
The showpiece close to Act 2 is the one comparative disappointment, not offering the frisson it ought to. And here Andy Sommer’s video direction is uncertain, too often dividing the screen into three for no discernible purpose, but he directs the principals with a deal of senstivity. So this is the DVD Aida we have long awaited.