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  • Bellini: Norma (complete opera)
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Bellini: Norma (complete opera) Original recording remastered

10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, October 7, 2003
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$53.06
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$53.06 + $3.99 shipping In stock. Usually ships within 4 to 5 days. Ships from and sold by FIRELIGHT.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 7, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0000CG8EK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,200 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Haas on August 6, 2004
Format: Audio CD
No opera collection should be without one of the Callas NORMAs. There is a surprising number from which to choose; each is deeply flawed. I agree with critic and Callas biographer Michael Scott when he suggests that her two best recorded NORMAs are the 1952 Gui and the 1955 Votto, both live. The former showcases her in top vocal form, albeit less sensitive and nuanced, while the supporting cast is adequate; the latter captures her tremendous characterization while it still enjoyed relative vocal health, and features a fine supporting cast (maybe even as good as her second Serafin?), but Votto's support is mostly dull and unsympathetic. Not to mention: sound quality!

This 1954 is admittedly less than ideal, but I couldn't live without it. EMI's new GROC reissue is much more reasonably priced than before, and it has been digitally remastered for even greater impact. Most importantly, Tullio Serafin remains Callas's greatest partner-in-crime, a brilliant conductor, particularly in the bel canto repertoire. He makes the most out of this "big guitar" music, which oddly enough can become too beautiful for its own good. Bellini was perhaps the best composer of vocal music (besides Handel), and there is a reason why NORMA was an inspiration for Wagner and his "gesamtkunstwerk." The collaboration of Callas and Serafin is a singular representation of Bellini's visionary music drama.

So, you may ask, what about the 1960 set? Good question. It's brilliant -- without a doubt!-- but no self-respecting discophile would recommend it as the premiere NORMA. Even with its supporting cast, one of the finest on record, and Serafin's mature conducting, it remains the essential complement to the 1954 (or, for that matter, the 1952 or '55). Why?
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By BDSinC on March 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is one of a number of recordings I have with Callas, including one where Joan Sutherland plays Clotilde (this is a live recording and the sound is not great, but the performance simply sizzles and again Stignani is the Adalgisa). However, to this recording. At first I was not impressed with it like I felt I would be. Of course, Callas didn't disappoint at all, but the rest of the cast sort of bothered me. Norma's father was sung in a way with virtually no legato at all and sort of shoved out note by note. There was no characterization to speak of, but the voice was full (perhaps recorded very closely miked and forward). Pollione really sort of bothered me, as he is the first really important lead we hear. Of course, this role was sung by Mario Filippschi. He sounded old, but his high C was wonderful. I had to consult the booklet that came with the recording to learn a thing about him (which was precious little) but it did give his birth and death dates. The man was OLD when he recorded the role. He may have been a wonder in his younger days, as he was considered for the longest time the only tenor who could successfully sing the role of Arnoldo in Rossini's William Tell. However, when he recorded this opera, he was, well, nearing the age most tenors gladly stop singing. That said, with repreated listenings, I started to really see what he was offering the role. He had heart, he had masculinity, he had passion. And he did sing the notes.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 2, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is the best version of Bellini's Norma on record because of the power and beauty of Maria Callas' voice which was at its prime in this recording. Maria Callas in her legendary 1954 performance as Bellini's epic character Norma..what more can you ask for ? Fans of the great late diva will be pleased. She has the best voice on this recording than all the subsequent late 50's and 60's recordings. It benefits from having conductor Tulio Serafin, who knew how to work well with Callas, as the force behind the music. Serafin made Callas a star actually, because he knew how to effectively bring out the best in her.

Maria Callas in this Norma is fresh, powerful and complex. She is plaintive and spiritual in the serene "Casta Diva" aria, dazzling in the coloratura "A Bello A Mi Ritorna" and she changes from love-struck woman to a volcano of fury and revenge in the later scenes to finally noble and resigned in the finale. Only Callas could most dramatically portray Norma. It is true that Callas's singing technique emphasized the dramatic intensity more so than the beauty. She wanted for audiences to be treated to real drama. She strained her voice so hard that it can be a gritty ugly voice. Even like this, there are moments in which Maria Callas sounds absolutely beautiful. The weak cast supporting her are indeed inferior when compared to such singers as tenors Franco Corelli, Mario Del Monaco and mezzo soprano Christina Ludwig which Callas worked with in later recordings. But this doesnt matter seeing how Maria is the real star anyways.

Other Normas of great calibre include Shirley Verrett and Montserrat Caballe. Both these sopranos once visited Callas and sought advice for how to sing a sensational Norma. Callas told them not to overdo it or to oversing it.
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