Verdi: Aida - Jones, King, Ludwig, Manuguerra; Wallberg. Wien, 1976
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On paper the cast for this performance of Aida appears as if they wandered onto the wrong stage while looking for the Wagner wing. However, all three of the leads prove that despite their steady diet of German music, they each had a remarkable affinity for Verdi. Gwyneth Jones’ voluptuous top, in particular, shimmers without any signs of fatigue, including an excellent high C in ”O patria mia”. As Amneris, Christa Ludwig brings a touch of humanity to a role that can easily descend into pure camp. And despite having retired many of her soprano roles, she demonstrates in Act IV that she still has high notes to burn. The only one who struggles a bit is James King as Radamès. Not to suggest that he misses any notes, he just doesn’t convey the same kind of confidence that he brought to his performances even well into the 1980s. We all have our off nights though, and an off night for James King is still a lot better than an on night for most other tenors. The sound is the only downside of this performance. There is occasional audience noise and there are some major chunks missing including the entire last scene of Act I and the last portion of the Aida/Amneris duet from the entrance of the chorus. But if you love these singers you will still likely enjoy this performance.