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 neverRead more 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.
Normaby Vincenzo Bellini Performer:
Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano),
Marilyn Horne (Mezzo Soprano),
John Alexander (Tenor),
Richard Cross (Bass),
Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano),
Joseph Ward (Baritone)
London Symphony Orchestra,
London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic Written: 1831; Italy Date of Recording: 07/1964 Venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, England Length: 162 Minutes 10 Secs. Language: Italian
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
The essence of Bel CantoJuly 9, 2014By Anthony S. (Woodland Park,, NJ)See All My Reviews"If you like bel canto opera, you like it because you appreciate beautiful singing. For my money, the best recording of Normabecause of the singingis this one."Report Abuse
One of twoFebruary 18, 2013By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA)See All My Reviews"Plan to buy two recordings of Norma. One with Callas and one with Sutherland. They were the reigning queens of Bel Canto of their day and the ones best equipped to present Norma in all her glory. In both cases get the first recordings of each. The ladies are in fresher voice and in full command of the part technically. One can quibble over tenors or sopranos on each of the various recordings but these two "performances" come across musically and stylistically very well indeed. As indicated in the write up to this recording, it is the most note complete of all of them, which would be meaningless except that the singing is so wonderful all around."Report Abuse