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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Beginner here. I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on which would be be the best choice for a first listen of Bellini's Norma. Both CD and DVD options would be preferable, thanks. :)
 

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This was the result of our Norma contest in our Talk Classical Most Recommended Opera DVDs thread:

# 31 Norma
Most Recommended Version:

Picked by 2 out of 3 voters (66.6%) among 2 nominated versions out of 15 existing versions
2007(LI) - Carella Giuliano - Gran Teatro del Liceo


Runner-up: picked by 1 out of 3 voters (33.3%)
1974(LI) - Patanè Giuseppe - Teatro Regio di Torino


As you can see, Caballé's Orange performance referenced above made runner-up, but it was a low-vote contest. I love it. It's got bad sound, lots of wind, it's an outdated film, but it has a historical, magical quality in my opinion, it should be watched at least once by every opera lover. I also own the one that won the contest, but don't like it very much.
 

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For someone new to Norma start with one of these stereo versions featuring two of the greatest sopranos of the stereo era:

-Sutherland
-Caballe



This is the early 1964 Sutherland release (not the later one with Pavoratti) when she had clear voice and staggering vocal range, strong support from young Maryln Horne, the very best version for many. The 1960s Caballe has extremely strong supporting cast, a balanced beautiful presentation but not the most dramatic......perhaps I am just under a Callas spell and her technique has forever biased me. I give a slight edge to the 1964 Sutherland

Once you have your feet wet you go for the supreme Norma of the last 60 years Maria Callas.



The early mono version (black) has Maria in full command of awe inspiring full range bel canto technique, unmatched power and dramatic impact. The later stereo (blue) in very popular because of much stronger supporting cast in Corelli and Ludwig, but Maria's vocals are in decline here, very insightful nuanced performance that still eclipses her rivals

Then if/when you are ready for the ultimate Norma you get the live 1955 Divina label performance (expensive), how do you top studio Callas......live of course, includes a staggering collection of bonus rare high quality 120+ photos on CD documenting this Norma production and backstage activities. For experienced hardcore Norma fans a gift from the opera gods......

 

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OCH GOD OCH MAN OCH GOD OCH MAN OCH GOD OCH MAN OCH GOD

Don't get any of those DVDs from post #3, it's bad idea, very bad.

Get either this CD that DarkAngel recommended above me: Corelli/Callas/Serafin or the other one with Callas and Mario del Monaco instead of Corelli, but the latter must be remastered version, otherwise it's hard to listen.

I would suggest the Corelli/Callas/Serafin CD the most. It was my first Norma too and it brought me two great musical loves that I still have: to Bellini and to tenor Franco Corelli which has the most unique and beautiful voice.

Just hear:

 

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It is true that Norma on DVD doesn't have the most successful versions - either not so good modern versions, or technically deficient older versions. But since many like to watch their operas rather than just listen to them, I added here the result of our DVD contest for Norma, taking care of saying that it was a low-vote one, that I don't like the winner, and that the runner-up has lots of technical difficulties. But it's hard to deny that Montserrat Caballé delivers the goods in her Orange DVD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all for the helpful responses! :) I wanted DVD options because my first opera on DVD really seemed to contribute to my understanding of the opera. After all, opera is half visual by nature. It just seems that I picked a bad one to be represented on DVD. I will be buying at least one CD version for sure - perhaps the Sutherland and blue Callas version. Will let you know when I purchase. :)

EDIT: Oh, Corelli sounds amazing. Thanks for that! :)
 

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Liszt: Réminiscences de Norma (Hamelin and many others). The best of his operatic 'extractions'. Improves on Bellini.

:tiphat:
 

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I don't dig this piece. It doesn't catch essence of opera IMO. One of least successful opera fantasies for piano I've heard.
It captures the essence of the story, quite successfully.

"IMO" is always assumed in my posts; not everyone shares my powers of analysis.

:cool:
 

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Norma is Callas vs. Caballé... it's hard to know which one was better. Let's just say that they were both great.
 

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The best Norma on DVD?

I have Norma on CD and mp3. I'd love to watch it, but I have no idea what to chose. I love Maria Callas, but she has no video recording of this opera. I know Montserrat did a wonderful Norma in 1974, but what about the sound quality of an outdoor recording? Edita Gruberova was too old when she did it. About others I don't know anything.
:tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Edit: Sorry! Before posting I did search for Norma, but I could not find something similar. I later realized, there is a post about Norma. I am focused on DVD only though...
 

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I have Norma on CD and mp3. I'd love to watch it, but I have no idea what to chose. I love Maria Callas, but she has no video recording of this opera. I know Montserrat did a wonderful Norma in 1974, but what about the sound quality of an outdoor recording? Edita Gruberova was too old when she did it. About others I don't know anything.
:tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Edit: Sorry! Before posting I did search for Norma, but I could not find something similar. I later realized, there is a post about Norma. I am focused on DVD only though...
Check the Bellini on DVD and Blu ray thread for discussion of several versions available with pros and cons for each, my pick is Cedolins..........

beautiful Fiorenza gives us a great performance of the druid priestess in modern picture/sound, wonderful production but supporting cast could be better........extended ovation below after casta diva well deserved


 

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I have Norma on CD and mp3. I'd love to watch it, but I have no idea what to chose. I love Maria Callas, but she has no video recording of this opera. I know Montserrat did a wonderful Norma in 1974, but what about the sound quality of an outdoor recording? Edita Gruberova was too old when she did it. About others I don't know anything.
:tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Edit: Sorry! Before posting I did search for Norma, but I could not find something similar. I later realized, there is a post about Norma. I am focused on DVD only though...
Not only what DG said is correct, but we also have a whole thread with the most recommended DVDs for each of our top 100 operas, including Norma. It can be found as a sticky in the Opera on DVD and Blu-ray subforum.
 

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Not only what DG said is correct, but we also have a whole thread with the most recommended DVDs for each of our top 100 operas, including Norma. It can be found as a sticky in the Opera on DVD and Blu-ray subforum.
Thanks!
I am sorry for starting this post. I just can't decide what Norma DVD is good enough for me. I tried to check before for a posting with a similar title, and the result looked like negative. After posting, I realized there is a relatively similar question even on the same page. I even answered to that post, but I just felt it was about whatever CD/DVD. I've completely forgotten. If anybody is capable, this post may be deleted. I made a mistake!

Edit: Angel, thanks for the video. Great rendition of Casta Diva, but I still miss Callas' Norma. I am so sad she could not leave any filmed Norma, Traviata, Il Barbiere, as she is the best Norma, the best Violeta and the best Rosina ever. And as a bonus, her partners were Gobbi, Corelli, Di Stefano...
In Norma, I also like Monserrat Caballe and Angela Gheorghiu.
 

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Thanks!
Edit: Angel, thanks for the video. Great rendition of Casta Diva, but I still miss Callas' Norma. I am so sad she could not leave any filmed Norma, Traviata, Il Barbiere, as she is the best Norma, the best Violeta and the best Rosina ever. And as a bonus, her partners were Gobbi, Corelli, Di Stefano...
In Norma, I also like Monserrat Caballe and Angela Gheorghiu.
Have you seen this short snippet of Norma (our Maria) preparing her followers for the day when they will rise up and crush the roman eagle, we are with you priestess Norma!

 

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Thanks!
I am sorry for starting this post. I just can't decide what Norma DVD is good enough for me. I tried to check before for a posting with a similar title, and the result looked like negative. After posting, I realized there is a relatively similar question even on the same page. I even answered to that post, but I just felt it was about whatever CD/DVD. I've completely forgotten. If anybody is capable, this post may be deleted. I made a mistake!

Edit: Angel, thanks for the video. Great rendition of Casta Diva, but I still miss Callas' Norma. I am so sad she could not leave any filmed Norma, Traviata, Il Barbiere, as she is the best Norma, the best Violeta and the best Rosina ever. And as a bonus, her partners were Gobbi, Corelli, Di Stefano...
In Norma, I also like Monserrat Caballe and Angela Gheorghiu.
Don't worry, Sabrina. No harm done. I have merged the two threads.
 
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