Opera: Aida all' Americana

With a fat $150,000 to spend on La Scala's new production of Aïda, Director Franco Zeffirelli soared off into Cinerama dreams of Oriental glory. Unabashed by what his fine Italian hand had done to the recent Broadway flop, The Lady of the Camellias, he went into positive paroxysms of production. And when the curtain rose on each new scene of his masterpiece, the astonished audience forgot the forlorn presence of Soprano Leontyne Price and Tenor Carlo Bergonzi to shout "Stupendo! Bravo, Franco!"

In his papier-mache Egypt, Zeffirelli had scattered Sphynxes like sugar cubes; amid palm trees, columns, temples and 200-foot-high...

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