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The new Warner Classics recording of Aida has received an enormous amount of publicity: a concert in Rome during February, the widely-reported recording sessions, a frenzy of excited online gossip and anticipation about singers making role debuts, plus more in-depth articles such last month’s Opera Now cover feature. So was it worth the wait – was it walk or squawk like an Egyptian? The good news is it’s an excellent modern addition to the canon.

Antonio Pappano conducts the superb orchestral and choral forces of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia with a blend of delicacy and grandeur. Anja Harteros essays Aida, her sizable soprano of the right weight coupled with her trademark pianissimi, and some long-breathed phrasing. She becomes more involved as the opera unfolds, the increasingly higher tessitura suits her, and doubtless she would deepen her interpretation if she were to take the role into her regular repertoire. Jonas Kaufmann has already made that move with Radamès, which suits him perfectly. His glorious tone, squillo, and ability to hone his voice to a thread combine excitingly with his fervent characterisation. Ekaterina Semenchuk’s Amneris has a secure vocal top, a booming chest voice and a duller middle, and Pappano occasionally unleashes more sound than she can dominate. Ludovic Tézier’s baritone is on the light side, but he manages to communicate with the other singers where many an Amonasro blusters. Erwin Schrott’s Ramfis is a bit woolly, Marco Spotti’s King firmer-toned, and Eleonora Buratto’s Priestess gives notice of a possible Aida in some years to come.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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