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Notes and Editorial Reviews
In collaboration with Giovanni Antonini, Riccardo Minasi and Maurizio Biondi, Cecilia Bartoli restores the sound and spirit of Norma in a landmark Decca recording based on the opera’s original sources.
Cecilia Bartoli leads a fabulous cast in Decca’s groundbreaking new recording, which presents Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma in a form that is complete with the exquisite mix of vocal and instrumental colours that Bellini intended for his ‘tragic opera’. Sumi Jo, John Osborn and Michele Pertusi respectively illuminate the roles of Adalgisa, Pollione and Oroveso. The sounds of period instruments from the composer’s time, brought to life by Orchestra La Scintilla and conductor Giovanni Antonini, underpin and blend with the timbres of
a cast carefully chosen to recreate the individual vocal qualities of the opera’s roles.
Contains translated libretto. Read less
Works on This Recording
Norma by Vincenzo Bellini
Sumi Jo (Soprano),
John Osborn (Tenor),
Reinaldo Macias (Tenor),
Liliana Nikiteanu (Soprano),
Michele Pertusi (Bass),
Cecilia Bartoli (Mezzo Soprano)
Orchestra La Scintilla,
International Chamber Vocalists
Written: 1831; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
More than just another "go" at Norma September 2, 2013
By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA) See All My Reviews
"Through recordings both live and studio I have heard the great 20th century Normas: Cigna, Ponselle, Milanov, Callas, Sutherland, Sills, Caballe, Scotto. I have heard a few of these live in the theatre as well as Verrett, an extended mezzo. No two have been the same. Each artiste has brought her own individuality to the part, and sometimes the opera through research of various source materials. This is what keeps the art form alive. That Bartoli et al bring us a newly considered score is exciting. That their commitment is 100% is what assures the success of their endeavors. In no way does it diminish the accomplishments of previous great artistes in the opera. If you have room for only one Norma in your collection, this is a great choice. If you already have a few, this one can certainly join them and hold its own proudly."
Welcome but problematic Norma June 21, 2013
By David J C. (W. Milwaukee, WI) See All My Reviews
"I love Bellini, especially Puritani and Sonnambula, but the opera Norma has puzzled me for nearly fifty years, and I could never quite bring myself to purchase a recording of it until now. This recording gives us a fresh hearing, and I hope it will lead to many new productions with period instruments and singers suited the style of the period. The new critical edition of the score, as performed by Antonini and La Scintilla, makes great musical and dramatic sense. For that reason alone, this recording is worth buying. Yet their are problems. Some of them are inherent in Bellini's score, and the cast doesn't quite get around them. First of all, Pollione must be the least simpatico of all major Italian romantic tenor roles. His music is fairly banal and there is little in the character or his music that suggests why Norma or Adalgisa should fall in love with this Roman proconsul skulking around the Sacred Grove. Osborn sings the role of this cardboard character well, but fails to bring to it the kind of vocal beauty that would have given some credibility to the character. Secondly, the opera is fairly static. Though the ensembles often contain thrilling music, for the most part people simply stand around talk to, or argue with, each other. Recitativi are critical to moving the plot forward, but they don't always work. The third problem is the role of Norma itself with its extraordinary vocal demands. Bartoli demonstrates that it really fits a mezzo with a high extension or a soprano with good low notes. However, in recent years, her singing has become increasingly mannered so that her technique gets in the way. Her vowels tend toward an odd back of the throat sound, and her articulation of the fast passages has become so breathy and staccato that the lyric line is often lost. Oddly, of all the members of the cast, she is the only one that I had to have the libretto in my hand to fully understand, though Italian is her native language. Also, her technique confines her to a narrow range of vocal colors which, though usually opulent, undermine her lieder-like approach to the text. She resorts instead to modulation of dynamics (often marvelously), but words get lost in recitativi when a mf suddly turns pianissimo and you don't know what she sang. Her performance does not quite add up to the sum of its parts. Sumi Jo surprised me as Adalgisa. I've always thought it was a lyric soprano role (Margherita Rinaldi sang it), and Jo sings it quite well. However, I think a lyric soprano with a darker sound (e.g. Luba Orgonasova) would have been a better balance on this recording. On the whole, this recording is good, but not the definitive Norma. Maybe there will never be one."