This is not a great Aida. Afterall, it's a 1951 live recording of an indulgent, sometimes bombastic performance in Mexico City. But it is a great recording in many ways, and interested collectors will be eager to have it. It features both Maria Callas and Mario del Monaco at the beginnings of their international careers. Callas is as fresh-voiced here as anywhere on record, and although del Monaco's sound hasn't yet taken on its darker aspects, he still has terrific freedom at the top. Oralia Dominguez is an impressive Amneris; though only in her mid-twenties here, the Mexico City native keeps up with her full-throttle co-stars without breaking a sweat. Giuseppe Taddei rounds out the top four as a steely voiced Amonasro. Oliviero de Fabritiis does his best to hold things together from the pit. If you put aside any need for subtlety, this recording has many rewards. It is an authentic taste of old-school opera from the 1950s; if you listen carefully, you can hear the prompter speaking throughout; the almost gladiatorial singing is of a breed you won't hear on-stage anymore; and the eruption of applause from the audience after each climax will make you feel like you're sitting in the house (especially after Callas' interpolated high E flat at the end of Act II). So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
AllMusic Review by Allen Schrott
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2