Notes and Editorial Reviews
I believe this is the only note-complete performance of this opera, and furthermore, the only one that is sung in all of the original keys (in almost every other recording "Casta diva" and the duets are transposed down). It is a spectacular example of bel canto. Recorded in 1964, Joan Sutherland was at her peak, exhibiting fearless, beautiful singing, thoroughly accurate in fiorature and breath control, and, for Sutherland, dramatically telling. Her usually dreadful diction is somewhat better than elsewhere, and she presents Norma's unhappiness and acceptance of her fate honestly. She's not as good when she must express anger, but she tries very hard, and in the face of such gorgeous singing, one barely minds. Of course she never
comes near Callas in psychological depth, but why bother bringing that up?
Marilyn Horne is a spectacular Adalgisa, her tone and technique stunning, her word painting sincere and telling, and her legendary blending with Sutherland nowhere more remarkable. John Alexander was a fine tenor and he presents a strong Pollione, but he never sounds Italian and the music suffers. Richard Cross is too light for Oroveso's pronouncements, but Yvonne Minton is a fine Clotilde. Richard Bonynge's leadership at this stage of his career consisted of listening to and following his wife; he gets little tension from the score but it's played well. Fans of Sutherland and Horne must own this--perhaps everyone should, just to hear how the music is supposed to sound--but opera lovers will need a Callas performance first and foremost.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Norma by Vincenzo Bellini
Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano),
John Alexander (Tenor),
Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano),
Joseph Ward (Tenor),
Marilyn Horne (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Cross (Bass)
London Symphony Orchestra,
London Symphony Chorus
Written: 1831; Italy
Date of Recording: 07/1964
Venue: Walthamstow Town Hall, London
Length: 162 Minutes 12 Secs.
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