Aida (2 CD) - Maria Callas
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Aida (Mexico, 03/07/1951)(2CD)
Aida held an important place in the earlier years of Callas’s career, and in 1950 it brought her debut at La Scala, Milan, the theatre where she soon became reigning diva. That same year, she sang the role of the Ethiopian princess in Mexico City, arousing near-hysteria among the audience (and anger in the competitive tenor singing Radamès) by interpolating astupendous top E flat at the end of the Triumphal Scene, which closes Act II of the opera.
She repeated the feat on her return to Mexico the following year, when this live recording was made. This time, the Radamès was the celebrated, heroic-voiced Italian, Mario del Monaco, while the Mexican mezzo-soprano Oralia Domínguez made an opulent Amneris and Giuseppe Taddei, one of the leading Italian baritones of his time, sang a powerful Amonasro.
This grandest of grand operas, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida features an epic backdrop for what is in essence an intimate love story set in ancient Egypt packed with magnificent choruses, dramatic arias, complex ensembles and elaborate ballets. The opera is, at its core, a profound exploration of the conflict of private emotion and public duty.
The score of this 4-act opera is a sophisticated example of Italian Romanticism as heard in the “Celeste Aida” right at the beginning of Act I, her impassioned “Ritorna vincitor!” that follows and her great internal journey, “Qui Radamès verrà! O patria mia” in Act III. At the center of Act II, is the great Triumphal Scene, which ranks among opera’s most celebrated moments.
Notable performances include a 1955 production conducted by Tullio Serafin with Maria Callas as Aida and Richard Tucker as Radamès, as well as a 1959 performance conducted by Herbert van Karajan with Renata Tebaldi as Aida and Carlo Bergonzi as Radamès.
Today the work holds a central place in the operatic canon, receiving performances every year around the world.
At the Metropolitan Opera alone, Aida has been performed more than 1,500 times since 1886 and was presented again in the Met’s 2018–19 season.
Aida was commissioned by and first performed at Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House on December 24, 1871.
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