This Aida is from Arena di Verona in June 2013, a colorful big-scale production always a treat for the eyes. An attempt was made to recreate the composer's original concept, so we have a sphinx or two, obelisks and appropriate costumes. There is always a lot going on, and the triumphal march with its robotic camels and elephants is quite a show indeed. Another production of Aida was presented in Arena di Verona the previous year and it also is available on DVD, even in 3D. Chinese soprano Hui He is known for her singing of the title role and she does not disappoint. Giovanna Casolla's Amneris is a wobbly affair, Pablo Sartori's Radames is adequate but little more. The real star of his presentation is the young conductor Omar Meir Wellber, whose dynamic direction and total control of the massive forces are remarkable. I'm sure we will be hearing much more from him.
"Celebrating Strauss" is a rather brief (60 minute) set of historic archive recordings of music of Strauss sung by some of his finest interpreters: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried and Rita Streich, with Herta Topper present as Octavian in a 25-minute BBC excerpt from Der Rosenkavalier. Recordngs were made from 1961-1967. Rita Streich sings only one lieder recorded in Paris in 1965. Elisabeth Schwazkopf is seen in two lieder accompanied by Gerald Moore recorded in 1970, five lieder with orchestra directed by Berislav Klobucar recorded in 1968 in Paris, as well as the Rosenkavalier excerpt. Irmgard Seefried ends the program with four lieder recorded in Paris in 1965. Performances are what one would expect, but video quality is generally poor, audio only adequate. To issue this on Blu Ray seems pointless. No texts are provided.
This 2010 Salzburg production of Elektra was praised on this site about two years ago (REVIEW). Now we have it on Blu Ray, and the state-of-the-art processing makes it even more vivid and impact. This site has a feature on Strauss's masterpiece discussing all recordings of the work (FEATURE). How unfortunate the performance by Rose Pauly from 1937 isn't in better sound!! At any rate, for a modern setting of Elektra in a very fine performance, here it is resplendent on Blu Ray.
R.E.B. (June 2014)