Great Singing, Poor Dancing, but Nevertheless a Good Buy
La Scala went all out for its 1986 production of this grandest of grand operas, with a strong cast and, most important for a video recording, a larger-than-life staging. The Triumph Scene in Act II is by no means Aida's only attraction, but it is the part that makes the strongest and most lasting impression and it is the visual and musical climax of this production. Stage director Luca Ronconi brings on a procession to dwarf all processions: looted treasures, heroic statuary, miserable captives struggling under the lash of whip-bearing slave drivers. On par with these visuals is Lorin Maazel's first-class performance of the popular Grand March with the outstanding La Scala chorus and orchestra. In Act III, the contrasting tranquility of the Nile Scene also gets a visual treatment to match the music's qualities.