Columbia's superb full recording of Aida - La Scala, Milan, 1928
Another excellent new transfer by Ward Marston
Recorded on 36 sides by Italian Columbia, Milan: 8, 10, 12-17, 19-21, 23, 26, 28 November, and 1 December 1928.
Matrices in side order: WBX422, 398, 375, 384, 414, 385, 394, 410, 412, 411, 386, 387, 407, 396, 391, 389, 392, 415, 413, 397, 393, 403, 400, 406, 408, 399, 416 402, 401, 423, 424, 404, 405, 390, 388, 395
First issued on Italian Columbia 9726-9743
CD, MP3 and FLAC information:
CDs: Double set - Acts 1 & 2= CD1, Acts 3 & 4 = CD2.
FLACs: Continuous tracks with a short pause between acts. Download includes covers, artwork and vocal score.
MP3: Two MP3s in a Zip filed which correspond to the two CDs as outlined above, complete with individual cue sheets. Download includes covers, artwork and vocal score.
Please check our help section for help with FLAC, MP3, Cue and Zip files. Downloads also include PDF files with printable covers and JPG files with front cover artwork, which is also embedded into individual music files.
"The Columbia version has also been executed in Milan and sung in Italian by Italian artists. The latter in the present instance are Giannina ArangiLombardi (Aida), Maria Capuana (Amneris), Aroldo Lindi (Raclames), Armando Borgioli (Amonasro), Tancredi Pasero (Ramphis), Salvatore Baccaloni (The King), and Giuseppe Nessi (Messenger). The conductor is Cav. Lorenzo Molajoli. Taken as a whole, the performance maintains a high standard of merit. Its vocal quality does this in a notable degree, the singers being not merely artists of ability and experience, familiar with every point and tradition in the opera, but thoroughly at home in up-to-date gramophone work. I am glad, also, to be able to say that I find here no evidence of excessive amplification, the result being that the parts stand out clearly in all the ensembles, while that of the great finale to Act II. is particularly good, in spite of the huge body of combined musical timbres. I tried the solos with various needles, and a Columbia " de luxe " is what I recommend for this album...
...As I have already suggested, the most notable feature of the Columbia Aida is the equality of its execution. If I were to select any special artist for praise it would be Signora Capuana. Her voice and style both remind me in their consistent purity and smoothness of Scalehi, the first and finest Amneris I ever heard. In the duets with Aida and Radames she sings with splendid dramatic force, yet without in the least exaggerating or spoiling the timbre of a lovely tone. Arangi-Lombardi is also a fine singer, and if she takes rather longer to get into her true stride she happily does so in time for a worthy rendering of Ritorna vineitor, while the high notes in the Ceti azzurri sound exceptionally beautiful. Aroldo Lindi does full justice to the robust demands of the part of Radames, and is at his best in the final duet with Aida. For the other soloists and for the chorus and orchestra unqualified admiration may be expressed. Moreover, for the clarity and skill shown in the recording no praise could be too high."
From "The Gramophone and The Singer" by Herman Klein in The Gramophone, May 1929
A note from Ward Marston:
In the fall of 1928, His Master’s Voice and Columbia each embarked on recordings of Verdi’s Aida, HMV in October followed by Columbia in November. Both were recorded in Milan, and each could boast a cast of singers with well-established careers. Both were also in the hands of excellent conductors. About 12 years ago, I produced a digitally remastered transfer of the HMV recording for the Romophone CD label, but until now, the Columbia recording has not had a proper digital reissue.
This recording gives one a very clear idea of a typical 1920s Aida performance which could have been heard at any number of Italian houses during the 1920s. It features the outstanding soprano, Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, 1891- 1951. Having made her debut in 1921 as a mezzo, Arangi-Lombardi was advised to switch to soprano roles, and she made her La scala debut in 1924 as Elena in Mefistofele. During the following 15 years, she appeared throughout Europe and South America, though she never sang in London or Paris. Fortunately, one can hear her in three other complete operas recorded by Columbia: Cavalleria Rusticana, Mefistofile, and La Gioconda. Aida was one of her most important roles, and she gives it a most individual approach. Her high C in “O patria mia” is lovely. Her only flaw is that she has some intonation difficulty at the top of her range during forte passages. She is joined by the equally renound mezzo, Maria Capuana who gives a sensational 1920s rendering of Amneris. The Radamès here is the Swedish tenor, Aroldo Lindi, born Gustav Harald Lindau, 1888-1944. The possessor of a loud dramatic voice, he sadly is not up to the rest of this cast. The other singers all sing well, especially Tancredi Pasero as Ramfis. The conducting by Lorenzo Molajoli is up to his usual excellent standard.
This recording was made in what sounds like a rehearsal studio with very dead acoustics. I have added a small amount of artificial reverberation in order to give it a bit of ambiance. The orchestral and voices are usually well-balanced, although there is a noticeable degradation of the sound at the ends of some of the longer sides. The voices are well-recorded except during the most intense passages where the recording equipment was simply incapable of handling the high levels. During these moments, there occurs severe distortion which is only slightly remediable.
This transfer was made using two excellent condition sets of American Columbia pressings, which yield quieter surfaces than any of the European editions. In order to achieve the best possible sound, each side was tested using a variety of stylus sizes and shapes. I used CEDAR de-clicking and de-crackling, but did not need to use any digital de-noising software. It should be noted that in the American edition, side 27 is a dubbing and not the original master recording. For this side, I used an Italian pressing which was pressed from the master.