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Subject: Aida from Salzburg Today
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 12 Aug 2017 18:12:53 -0700
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I just completed listening to the Aida broadcast from Salzburg that
included the much anticipated debut of Anna Netrebko as Aida.  It was a
good performance but for me a bit of a mixed bag.  Of course with Maestro
Muti and the Wiener Philharmoniker,  you are going to get an orchestrally
gorgeous performance with superbly judged tempi and gorgeous textures from
the orchestra and that we had in abundance.  It was beautifully conducted
as only Muti can.

Now, the big question - how as Anna Netrebko's first Aida?  To my ears,
very good, very, very good.  I am sure with more performances it will get
even better.  Vocally she was secure and did many felicitous things.  The C
in O patria mia was well taken, not the best I have heard but fairly easy
and held just long enough.  The rising lines at the end of the aria were
gorgeously taken on one breath,, just the way I like it.  Elsewhere she had
plenty of power, the voice was even and the tone beautiful.  Was she the
best Aida I have heard?  Who knows,  I would rather hear her live in the
role before I make that statement, but I was pleased.  My Aida's include
Leontyne Price, the other Price (Dame Maggie), Nilsson (a fabulous Aida
BTW), Arroyo (the best - as well sung as L Price but with a much bigger
voice and that incredible powerful upper register that  Price lacked),
Tomowa-Sintow (belissima) and Varady (also belissima), just to name the
best in my experience (live).  Ekaterina Semenchuk was a fine Amneris.  The
voice rich and powerful with the requisite authority and an easy top and
solid lower tones.  The voice was even throughout the range and she had
full measure of the imperious Amneris.  The judgement scene was as good as
it gets today.

Now, for the rest.  I have always liked Francesco Meli.  It is a beautiful
voice and I have seen him live a few times, he is also very easy on the
eyes, something that didn't matter today as it was an audio only
broadcast.  That's the problem. Without the visuals, he was really not my
idea of a Radames.  What should have been one of the best parts of the
opera for him, Celeste Aida, showed him in uneven, unsteady voice.  He got
better as the opera progressed even though he doesn't have the power for
the Triumphal Scene.  The third act and final acts were better.  It is not
really a Radames voice.  He is a beautiful lyric tenor and why he is doing
this I do not know.  Perhaps my problem is that my first Radames' were
Corelli. Tucker and Bergonzi (not a honker of a voice) but he had Radames
down pat and of course, was the great Verdi stylist of his time.  He knew
how to sing this music with a less than clarion voice.  Meli does not.\.
The role is just a few sizes beyond his fine lyric tenor.  Luca Salsi was
OK as Amonasro.  The voice a bit dry and lacking the power at the top a
real Verdi baritone needs.  Belosselskiy and Tagliavini were good as Ramfis
and the King.  Good, nothing special.

This emerged as one of the better Aida's I have heard over the past decade
(not really saying much LOL), not perfect but with many satisfactions,
particularly in the pit and on the female side.  So there it is, my take.

Donald

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