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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. )
 

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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.
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.
 

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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.
Yes, I can believe, he probably regretted it later.

The first Pollione was more like barritone and sung the high C in falsetto. Do you think, the tenors, which cut high C away could sing it in falsetto, if they tried ?
 

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The feared C4 in Pollione's cavatina, in the repetition of 'sensi':
...
Has been handled in different ways: just singing the C4, not singing the C4, produce the C4 in 'voluttade', because it' easier than giving the high note on the 'i',...
Thank you, I finally understand, why they sometimes change the word order !

Do you have any insight, why so many tenors suffer at "la prima fiamma" in the initial recitative - dialogue with Flavio ? It is my private sadistic pleasure to go check that part, when new Norma turns up on youtube.
 

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For those who find it difficult to appreciate La Divina, the only two sopranos who have recorded the complete role with any success are Caballe and Sutherland.
N.
For sound only, I would add Leyla Gencer. I had a period of time, when I prefered her to Callas (later I switched back to Callas, though). Also, Bruno Prevedi as her Pollione has a beautiful dark voice, he actually started as a baritone.

For DVD, I am capable of being happy with several sopranos, actually. That is my blessing as an amateur, who does not know how exactly "nelle fiamme perrira" should sound, for instance. But there is always something else that irritates me at those DVDs. For instance the blind and thus vulneeable looking Pollione next to June Anderson.
 
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