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I have to agree, that no Norma on DVD is perfect.

I managed to fall in love with this opera under imperfect circumstances, i.e. watching the recording of Joan Sutherland in Sidney. She was great, but visually, it needed a lot of suspension of disbelief, she looked like grandmother not only to "her children", but possibly even to Pollione. And I did not really like Pollione and Oroveso. But it worked.

However, if you find a really good Norma, let me know.

(I know some people are into recording with Radvanovsky from MET now, but I am still not satisfied. )
On video I like most the one from Orange with Caballé, Vickers and Veasey. It's an old school, traditional production but the singing is spectacular and the outdoor setting works very well.

On CD, the most outstanding performance is the one from La Scala in 1955, with Callas, Simionato and Del Monaco. I've reviewed it on my blog where I have also reviewed Callas's two studio performances and the 1952 Covent Garden one.

If I have these in my collection I don't really feelI need any others.
 

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For DVD, Caballe in Orange is possibly the best, but the sound is not always clear, It is not an idiotproof version I would recommend to somebody new to this opera without some disclaimers. Although, is idiotproof even necessary, since I did not need it myself ? Another reservation about the Orange performance I have is, that the timbre of John Vickers is so weird. Is there a name for it ? Raspy ? Or what ? I know, for many, he is the best Pollione ever, but I cannot get used to him. Funny thing is, I have heard him in Samson and Dalila recently, and there, he just sounded like a normal tenor, I still cannot believe it is the same singer.

For audio only, I totally agree with you, I also prefer Callas with del Monaco in 1955.
Vickers is one of my favourite tenors, so I like him in the role.

Did you know that Callas wanted him to sing Pollione for her final Normas in Paris, but he declined, saying he couldn't sing the top C in his aria. You will note that he omits the note in Orange, so maybe he regretted his decision.
 

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What sets Sutherland's early recording apart is the simply jaw dropping high notes she delivers. The D in the trio and the Eb in the last act duet. Only fat Callas could sing such notes above the staff that were equal to Sutherland's here. They are perhaps the greatest of her career in beauty and astonishing size. Not the drama of Callas, but all three principles sing the music with incredible beauty. I am probably alone in this assessment as it was past her early period which is the only one people here besides me like.
I'm not so sure. Thin Callas delivers spectacular top Ds in the trio in the 1955 performances (Rome radio and La Scala) of Norma. She produces another stunner in 1957 at the end of the Act I of Anna Bolena. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they are not exposed, but supported by the full orchestra and other singers.
 
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