Verdi's Aida

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Aida, Giuseppe Verdi’s grand opera of Ancient Egypt, returns to the Metropolitan Opera. Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska makes her Met debut in the title role of the enslaved Ethiopian princess.

Two Met favorites, tenor Roberto Alagna as the war hero Radamès, and Olga Borodina as the pharaoh's daughter, Amneris, Aida's cunning rival, star in the production.

George Gagnidze sings Amonasro, Aida's cunning father, and Štefan Kocán is the Egyptian priest Ramfis. Met principal conductor Fabio Luisi conducts his first company performances of the opera.

Cast and Credits:

Aida: Liudmyla Monastyrska
Amneris: Olga Borodina
Radamès: Roberto Alagna
Amonasro: George Gagnidze
Ramfis: Štefan Kocán
The King: Miklós Sebestyén

Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Production: Sonja Frisell

Comments [12]

Ira Ehrenkranz from morristown new jersey

I took our son to Sat's performance of Aida. It is a thrilling experience. I was first introduced to the opera at age 9 I'm 78 now @ the Ocean Grove Auditorium in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. With Fraucio Tagalivini and Pia Tassinari. I'll never forget when the Triumphal March was staged with a donkey a rabbit and some other small animals, my uncle said :"Wait 'til you see this grand opera at the Metroplitan!" He was so right. Every performance is to be cherished. It is Verdi's jewel in his crown !

Dec. 22 2012 12:55 PM
Les Bernstein from Miami, Florida

The end of "Celeste Aida" sung forte then piano that Toscanini employed at his broadcast performance is actually Verdi's solution. He composed that alternative ending for Giuseppe Capponi at the opera's premiere in Parma, 20 April 1872. Verdi recommended this alternative ending three years later to Ernest Nicolini, Adelina Patti's husband. The ending appears in the French vocal score of 1880 and it's been recorded by Paul Franz and Gustarello Affre. This information was in a letter to the editor of "Gramophone Magazine" August 1991 by Robert J. Dennis, recorded sound librarian at Harvard University. I'd like to comment on Maestro Luisi's conducting. I thought overall the lyricism and sweep were there, though for me a tendency to distend ends of phrases (not always, though) didn't always convince. Maestro carefully and with obvious serious forethought, asked the strings to make a crescendo under Amneris's Act II "Trema, vil schiava! spezza il tuo core...segnar tua mor" which was very convincing, although I've never heard any other conductor ask for that. I have the feeling Maestro is one who is very flexible and amenable with singers. I've never heard the A flat and B natural trumpets played more gloriously. Having a chorus of priestesses rather a solo priestess sing at the beginning of the Third Act makes good sense to me. In sum, I enjoyed the lower voices more and more than agree with all previous writers about the golden age voices they mentioned.

Dec. 16 2012 08:50 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I neglected to cite an Amneris. Margarete Mtzenauer, the Amneris opposite Caruso at his debut as Rhadames at the MET with Toscanini conducting, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Ebe Stignani, Emmy Destinn, Shirley Verrett and Blanche Thebom were ALL highly effective commanding personalities as well as vocally sturdy. The4:57 broadcast has just finished, at 4:57 PM.

Dec. 15 2012 04:57 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

AIDA, IMHO, for big-voiced, rich in timbre color, singers- sopranos, mezzos, tenors, baritones and tenors -the ideal opera for most audiences. Corelli and Caruso had the most authentic-sounding voices singing the Rhadames role. Titta Ruffo was perhaps the very personification in tone and dramaturgy the ideal Amonasro.
Rosa Ponselle and Renata Tebaldi vie competively fore the role of Aida. I was present in Studio 8 H when Toscanini conducted the broadcast of Aida. His conducting was appropriately epic, majestic, solemn, nuanced, lyric and moved inexorably at the most effective pace for the most sensitive expression of the music and the drama. The Priestess Teresa Stich-Randall, later to become a star at the Vienna State Opera, was at that time also a classmate of mine at Columbia University's opera workshop. The Rhadames was Richard Tucker, Herva Nelli the Aida. It was not the cast but Toscanini's conducting that made that performance so memorable. As Ramphis, Jerome Hines, Alexander Kipnis, and going way back into operatic lore, if one can trust it, Eduard de Reszke who was known to be a fantastic Ramphis, would comprise all the above for a celeste cast !!! BUON NATALE e FELICE CAPO D'ANNO A TUTTI!!! I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. My live Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall performances, including my singing of Siegfried, Gotterdammerung Siegfried, Tristan, Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Walther von Stolzing, Otello, Eleazar and Florestan. may be downloaded, free, at "Recorded Selections" on my three websites,, ,, and My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. I am an opera composer ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] and the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles.

Dec. 15 2012 04:19 PM
Larry Eisenberg from New York city

Verdi is my sine qua non,
Aida is a benison,
The Cast? Not the best,
But conducted with zest,
And the music is lovingly spun.

Dec. 15 2012 03:07 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC: Yes, thanks. Buon Natale a tutti.
Think Alagna voice too light. Aida's voice to me is also a little light. I was spoiled by Bjoerling. Milanov, Price, Tebaldi. But this is a rough opera and appreciate the effort on their part. Do like the Amneris today. Again, very tough opera.

Dec. 15 2012 01:56 PM

To Mr. Rubenstein, I too think Corelli is the gold standard. Heard him in the '60's with Nilsson - what Aidas they sang. If you get the chance, get a copy of the Met b'cast of 1/24/53 of Aida. The cast: Aida-Zinka, Radames-Mario Del Monaco, Amneris-Blance Thebom, Ramfis-Jerome Hines and George London as Amonasro. All healthy voices, none having to resort to gimmicks. It's one of my favorite performances. They all sing out with nuanced beauty & true to Verdi's score.
Today's soprano,Monastryka, shows no fear & sings the role quite well from start to finish.

Dec. 15 2012 01:41 PM

CBC I almost forgot - Buonna Natale a tutti, especially you.

Dec. 15 2012 12:58 PM

No, Toscanini allowed Tucker to sing itthat way & some took it to mean that meant somehow Verdi, long dead, approved. My vocal score has no repeat.

Dec. 15 2012 12:54 PM

Alagna is a good Don Jose or Romeo, but he is no Rhadames. The gold standard is Franco Corelli. Just listen to his Celeste Aida from the March 3, 1962 broadcast.(It's on You Tube.) Unbelievably thrilling.
BTW: I have always been shocked at Tucker's repeating the last phrase pp. Old tenors do that, but Tucker was a (comparitively) young buck in 1949. Did Verdi write it this way?

Dec. 15 2012 11:51 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC: I too like Alagna and have heard him sing well in other roles. Looking forward to this opera this afternoon. It is what grand opera is all about. I find the character of the warrior king fascinating. His "If love of country is a crime, we are all ready to die" always sends a chill through me.
Tante belle cose

Dec. 15 2012 10:03 AM

CBC I like R. Alagna. I heard his Radames this Weds. Celeste Aidawent well. The 1st high B was forte, as written, the he went on his own.Verdi's markinngs for the following four measures are pppp,ppp,pp and pp. The notation on the last High B is "morendo".Well Alagna came off the 1st High B went down to pianissimo for the rest of the aria and "vicina sol"(B) was sung falsetto!!!!! It sounded as if someone was blowing a little whistle. Then he repeated the phrase piano. The applause was tepid. I'm used to Del Monaco and others just belting out the B, or Corelli going from ff to pp, making a fantastic diminuendo on the B, or Tucker (in 1949 under Toscanini's baton) belting out the high B then repeating the phrase piano.
As I said I like Alagna but I don't think Radames is for him. He also was inaudible in other sections. We know he has the note, I don't know why he sang it that way.

Dec. 14 2012 09:46 PM

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