Verdi: Aida - Zeani, Cecchele, Bumbry, Guelfi, Ghiuselev; Previtali. Napoli, 1969
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Although Virginia Zeani’s voice was not in the traditional mold of many of the great Aidas of her generation, she manages to bring a new dimension to the role. Her unique slender yet lush soprano copes effortlessly with Verdi’s writing, while bringing a girlish quality that helps to give the sense that Aida is in fact a young girl caught in an impossible situation as opposed to a warrior princess ready to take down an empire. This approach is especially effective in the Aida-Amneris duet where she goes up against a formidable Grace Bumbry. Bumbry brings all of the bluster and hysteria of a great Amneris without ever compromising the opulent purity of her instrument. Gianfranco Cecchele is admirable as Radamès without quite rising to the level of the female leads. The sound is very good although, unfortunately, the last five minutes of the triumphal scene are missing.