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Bellini - Norma / Maria Callas

Maria Callas , Vincenzo Bellini Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
  • Audio CD (June 6, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Gala
  • ASIN: B000001XN8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,723 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Norma, opera: Sinfonia
2. Norma, opera: Act 1. Introduzione / Scena. Ite sul colle
3. Norma, opera: Act 1. Recit. Svanir le voci
4. Norma, opera: Act 1. Cavatina. Meco all'altar
5. Norma, opera: Act 1. Recit. Odi! suoi riti a compiere
6. Norma, opera: Act 1. Cabaletta. me protegge, me difende un
7. Norma, opera: Act 1. Coro. Norma viene
8. Norma, opera: Act 1. Recit. Sediziose voci
9. Norma, opera: Act 1. Cavatina. Casta Diva!
10. Norma, opera: Act 1. Recit. Five al rito
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Norma, opera: Act 1. Trio. Oh di qual sei tu vittima
2. Norma, opera: Act 1. Perfido!... Or basti!
3. Norma, opera: Act 2. Introduzione
4. Norma, opera: Act 2. Recit. Dormono entrambe
5. Norma, opera: Act 2. Recit. Mi chiami, o Norma
6. Norma, opera: Act 2. Duetto. Deh! con te
7. Norma, opera: Act 2. Duetto. Mira, o Norma
8. Norma, opera: Act 2. Coro. Non parti?
9. Norma, opera: Act 2. Recit. Guerrieri, a voi venirne
10. Norma, opera: Act 2. Scena. Ei tornerŕ. Si
See all 18 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling live performance of Bellini's masterpiece February 18, 2000
Although Maria Callas has made two fine studio recordings of NORMA for EMI, this live recording of a performance at La Scala in 1955 provides a much more thrilling experience for the listener despite its obvious sonic limitations.
Norma was one of Callas's greatest roles but the extra dose of adrenalin in this live performance may have made it probably the most intense of her Normas that have been captured on records. Compared with the two studio versions, Callas's interpretation of the part is more refined and feminine than in the earlier mono set, and she is in better vocal shape than in the stereo version. As always, she lavishes great attention on the text and is able to illuminate every phrase (including those in the recitatives) with meaning. She shapes Bellini's long phrases stylishly and elegantly and enhances their expressivity through the employment of a wide palette of tone colours and a broad dynamic range. Her control of rhythm, especially in florid passages, and her ability to integrate each phrase into an organic whole, are also evidence of her marvellous musicianship. On a pure vocal level, once her voice has warmed up during her first scene, she sounds totally comfortable in this most demanding role and her masterful handling of the roulades and those athletic sprints to the High Cs in "Ah, non tremare" are simply stunning. She is also able to heighten the dramatic impact by capping the trio with a stupendous High D, which she didn't attempt for her studio recordings.
The cast in this performance is also better than those assembled by EMI. Mario del Monaco, while not being a very subtle singer, makes a heroic Pollione. His clarion voice and confident singing renders him a good dramatic partner for Callas in their duets and ensembles.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
There are other Callas and Del Monaco Normas. There are other Callas Normas also featuring Simionato. There are other Callas Normas with Antonio Votto conducting. There are other recordings of Callas performing Norma, live! There are other recordings of Callas performing Norma at La Scala in Milan. Adding to the confusion, there are also other Callas Normas recorded in 1955! Rest assured this is THE Callas performance; and it is the only one with all of those attributes!
Yet, there is a flaw in this GALA CD. GALA engineers saw fit to splice snippets from other Callas performances wherever tiny bits of static made them uncomfortable. Unfortunately, one such moment was when Callas sang, "Dormono entrambi", quietly over her sleeping children.
Okey, some folks may prefer GALA's substitution of another Callas rendition in better sound, but others will surely regret losing what may be Callas's most poignant singing that evening.
Since this special performance is availabile on at least three additional labels, it's worth the trouble to check which label you are buying. Avoid this GALA edition, and buy one of the three other labels that have released this recording if you want to hear one of Maria Callas' most memorable performance unedited.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recording qualities or not January 20, 2000
When I played this recording to a good friend she ask me "Did you record this yourself? That's how bad the record quality is. BUT. It was my first recording of NORMA I heard. I was in love immediatly. Mono ? Who cares if the stuff is good . Audiance noise ? That makes it soo authentic. One wishes to be part of that night. No, no it is far the best recording I have heard Bellinis Norma sungen. (I bought quiet more afterwards) It is a magic match of Conductor and Orchestra, the speed, the counter voices and the feeling you get when the audiance gets mad with a reason! I always regret that I never can be part of that performance. What a picture : A night in Milano in July 1955 , a traditional old fashioned opera building and eveyone around you suffers and weeps with her. What sound recording quality in the world can produce this picture ? There is more to it to make good recording. One has to consider the time and circumstances . Here we are talking 1955 ! This is a authentic copy of one night in Italy ! In "Mira, o Norma" it all comes to a point where one shakes and knows this is a different world one could see just for a glimpse. It really makes you "see" Maria Callas and Guiletta Simionato smiling when they set up to the next step of the duett. There are a bunch of very soulful recordings in my collection which are lacking the sound of stero and the like. But isn't the people you want to hear ? Not the studio where they recorded in. But to come to an end : This is the best recording of all times of Norma. It is outstanding and everyone who seriosly considers himself a friend of Opera has to have it . It is a must , it is a classic, a standard which is still in need of its successor.
Hartmut, San Francisco
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CALLAS IS NORMA IS CALLAS IS NORMA April 26, 2000
I first heard this performance on LP many years ago. I was familiar with the Callas Norma from her EMI and some "private" recordings, but this performance knocked me out! It is the perfect combination of Callas the vocalist and the total performer. She starts building the character from her first utterance. Also, her runs are accurately sung, and her upper register is in great shape for this time period of her career. High points: the trio finale with Simionato and Del Monaco: all three are caught up in the music drama of this crucial scene; the duets with Simionato (who despite her aspirated runs is still an exciting performer in this role); and especially the finale, always a Callas high point. As a previous reviewer here has pointed out, Dormano entrambi is spliced with other performances in this recording, so something is lost. The sound is much better than some of the reviews would lead you to believe: but it is a radio broadcast from the fifties, so not digital sound of 2000. is like watching a movie from the thirties or a silent movie: part of the total impact. So purchasers should be aware that this is an important historical document, and the sound is indicative of its time and the broadcast method. So if sound and technical perfection are important to you, look elsewhere. If you want a vital searing music drama, try this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is "The" Norma
Despite the fact that I am an Australian and have actually heard Dame Joan Sutherland sing Norma live at the Sydney Opera House, my loyalty in this piece remains forever with... Read more
Published on October 4, 2009 by Garry Feeney
5.0 out of 5 stars The Norma for the Ages
Every Callas recording - no matter from which era in her career - has something to recommend it. Then there is the recordings which are just so outstanding that not to have it... Read more
Published on March 6, 2009 by J. Vos
I am well aware of the comments which admonish Gala for splicing small snippets from other performances to replace a few moments of static in the opening of Act II of this... Read more
Published on October 10, 2008 by L. Mitnick
4.0 out of 5 stars Callas' most satisfying Norma,
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... Read more
Published on May 14, 2008 by Ralph Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Question
This is just excellent. Has anyone heard the Divina Records release of this? I'm curious as to just how much better that one is.
Published on August 28, 2007 by Irvino al-Montegue
4.0 out of 5 stars The Norma of Normas
This live recording from La Scala 1955 is the best available account of Callas' portrayal of Norma, in my opinion. Read more
Published on January 31, 2005 by Maria Lakomska
4.0 out of 5 stars Great performance but caveat emptor concerning Gala
Being the creature of the theater that she was, it is not surprising that Maria Callas' best recordings of her most admired roles are those of live performances... Read more
Published on June 18, 2004 by klavierspiel
5.0 out of 5 stars What a THRILL
Here three vocal GENIUSES were united to sing the NORMA of a lifetime. After this GLORIOUS Norma all other Normas leave me cold! Read more
Published on May 25, 2004 by Tooske van Vaarlen
5.0 out of 5 stars The best ever!
This is THE Norma of all Normas. Get this one and the first Sutherland-set and, if you like pianissimi, get the live Caballe-recording from Orange!!!!!!!!
Published on March 16, 2002 by Emma de Soleil
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance - awful recording
This is one of those "I wish that I could have been there" performances. Maria Callas is at her peak, and Norma is her role. Read more
Published on November 2, 2001 by Deforrest Home
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