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Norma

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

Price: £11.03 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Sept. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Myto / Myto Devotion
  • ASIN: B001APK8P6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,817 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Mario del Monaco (Pollione), Nicola Zaccaria (Oroveso), Maria Callas (Norma), Giulietta Simionato (Adalgisa), Gabriella Carturan (Clotilde) & Giuseppe Zampieri (Flavio) - Orchestre et Chœur du Théâtre de la Scala - Antonino Votto, direction

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
While the mono sound on this issue isn't the best, it's perfectly listenable and one soon forgets the hiss and distortion once one is drawn into the stellar characterisations by four artists all in their prime. I still would not dispense with the 1960 studio recording in favour of this, as Callas' singing there is almost as good technically despite some flap in the top notes and there are many compensating subtleties of inflection plus the advantages of excellent stereo sound, Corelli's thrilling Pollione, Ludwig's glamorous Adalgisa, the same sonorous Oroveso from Zaccaria and experienced, sympathetic direction from Serafin. Similarly, I very much enjoy the live RAI broadcast (from the same year as this Milan performance, also with Del Monaco in sterling form and directed by Serafin) which is in marginally clearer, cleaner sound. So, I'm greedy; I want to have all three and find different virtues in them all. Having said that, this performance probably enshrines the best of all Callas' many assumptions of this role and Simionato's Adalgisa, in particular, is a performance to treasure. Del Monaco is a real helden-Pollione but not brutal or insensitive, nor necessarily inferior to Corelli's equally virile Roman in the studio recording. Votto is a relaxed, pliant accompanist, reluctant to impose himself upon four such experienced and musical soloists (and the supporting roles are well taken, too). In the end, there's no complete recorded performance - not Sutherland, not Caballe, good as they are - to touch Callas', and you must have one or two of the three under discussion here. (The first Cetra Callas "Norma" sees her partnered by indifferent singers and she has yet to deepen her characterisation.)
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Using the star system correctly I have indicated that I love it - which does NOT mean I think it is perfect. Indeed it is not! What I believe it is, is the finest Callas 'Norma' on record. It was a night at Milan's La Scala and the soprano was on fire! I think this one performance is the nearest we can get to perfection. Artistry, drama and vocal means were at a max for her. Detail after detail emerges as significant and without exaggeration. One such is when she turns on Pollione with palpable fury only to linger momentarily over the thought of their children. Top Cs are solid and without stridency - the bottom pungent and threatening. So why not perfection? That I think must depend on personal reactions and expectations. For me Serafin was a greater musician than Votto. Zaccaria if fine - sonorous and tuneful. Del Monaco is another matter altogether.
It was a time when Polliones were expected to roar out Bellini's music. Callas had to contend with Baum, Corelli, Filippeschi and here Del Monaco. The tenor is to Bellini what I am to Olympic gymnastics ie neither of us has a clue what to do. He is coarse, vulgar and mauls where he should caress. ( Has he spotted that his big scena is where he is reminiscing about his new love and not urging on the entire Roman army to slaughter every last druid in Gaul?) I suppose he is no worse in that respect than the other tenors named, but Bellini it isn't.
For me, Simionato is a slight problem as well. She seems to want to outsing Callas at certain points and her vibrato and tendency to aspirate runs is not what I hoped to hear. Both Del Monaco and Simionato have their admirers so these things may not bother them as much as they bothered me.
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as historical recordings go its worth it
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Format: MP3 Download
I have to disagree with the other reviewer and say that this is one of the most disappointing versions of Bellini's masterwork on disc. Approaching 60, Sutherland sounds matronly and ungainly. She can manage all the coloratura and a spectacular high D, but it is in the more liquid moments - and with Bellini there are many - where line sags and intonation wavers. Having already recorded the role successfully in stereo, with perfectly appropriate colleagues, this set seems to me to be self-indulgent in the extreme.

Caballe - herself a fine Norma - is miscast as Adalgisa and also sounds a little too old. Pavarotti is his usual heroic self, a big plus.

The over-the-top sound and the gradiose (but wobbly) intentions of the prima donne do not really make up for what is essentially an unnecessary recording. Sutherlands fans will be perfectly content with her first recording. Bellini fans are ill served by this set.

It would have been more generous had Decca invited another singer to preserve her interpretation, rather than let Sutherland duplicate hers. Miricioiu for instance.
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Perfect thanks
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