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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida (Highlights)
Aida: Maria Dragoni (sop)
Radames: Kristjan Johannsson (ten)
Amneris: Barbara Dever (mezzo)
Amonasro: Mark Rucker (bar)
Ramfis: Francesco Ellero D'Artegna (bass)
King of Egypt: Riccardo Ferrari (bass)
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Rico Saccani
Recorded October 1994
NAXOS 8.554706 [67.15]
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The generous selection of highlights offered here is taken from Naxos's complete recording of the opera. The chorus is not credited but the cast listing for the full opera recording lists no less than ten Irish choirs. They sing well though inevitably they lack the full-throated tone which an Italian chorus would contribute.

The soloists are something of a mixed bag. I was very taken with Barbara Dever who sings Amneris. She has a very full rich voice which she uses to good dramatic effect. As Aida Maria Dragoni also sings well and with appropriate intensity but her Radames, Kristjan Johannsson is less pleasing with too little light and shade in his characterisation. The remaining roles are reliably taken though we hear relatively little of them in these excerpts.

How often the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland get an opportunity to play an opera I do not know but they certainly seem to relish this assignment and their playing for Rico Saccani is alert and responsive.

No texts or translations are provided but there is a perfectly adequate synopsis which includes all the cues for the separate tracks. At the Naxos price this is a good way to obtain an introduction to Verdi's masterpiece.

John Quinn

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