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Cecilia Bartoli leads a fabulous cast in Deccas groundbreaking new recording, which presents Vincenzo Bellinis Norma in a form that is complete with the exquisite mix of vocal and instrumental colours that Bellini intended for his tragic opera. Sumi Jo, John Osborn and Michele Pertusi respectively illuminate the roles of Adalgisa, Pollione and Oroveso. The sounds of period instruments from the composers time, brought to life by Orchestra La Scintilla and conductor Giovanni Antonini, underpin and blend with the timbres of a cast carefully chosen to recreate the individual vocal qualities of the operas roles.
Cecilia Bartolis Norma evokes the style and artistry of the legendary soprano Giuditta Pasta, the operas original heroine. The Italian superstar here continues her mission to reveal lost details of expression and emotional variety in music covered by the dark varnish of later performance traditions. Norma, often portrayed as a superhuman priestess, emerges in Bartolis performance as a woman of flesh and blood, torn between duty and love.
Her interpretation was hailed by the Financial Times as a radical but convincing rethink of the part. Fonoforum wrote of the often moving and touching nature of Bartolis Norma, following her concert performance of the work in Dortmund in August 2010, while Die Zeit described the singers prayer-like account of the operas hit aria Casta Diva as great art, and also a provocation.
Deccas studio recording of Norma employs the latest critical edition of Bellinis score, painstakingly restored from manuscript and early printed sources.
Only in this way can we appreciate once more the true magic, the colour and emotion in this music, observes Cecilia Bartoli in a short essay included as part of the albums elegant hardback presentation. It was my wish, she continues, to bring Bellinis opera closer to the soundworld of the bel canto period.
Norma is set for release in May 2013 in time for the operas first staging in Salzburg as part of the city s annual Whitsun Festival. Cecilia Bartoli, in her second year as artistic director of the Whitsun Festival, will perform the title-role in company with John Osborn, Michele Pertusi, Orchestra La Scintilla and Giovanni Antonini (17 & 19 May). Moshe Leiser and Patrice Cauriers production will be revived in August during the Salzburg Festival, again with Bartoli as Norma.
Top Customer Reviews
The first attempt at introducing some corrective measures to this approach occurred with the appearance of the first of Joan Sutherland's two recordings under the baton of her husband Richard Bonynge. For the first time a lighter and more lyrical approach was taken... an approach that attempted to bypass and ignore the traditions propagated by Serafin and other older maestros. In short, Bonynge's version was the first attempt to perform the opera in a early Nineteenth Century manner with a respect for the piece's Rossinian pedigree. Cuts were opened, cabaletta repeats were embellished, and even some textual variations based on Bellini's original autograph score were introduced.Read more ›
This recording was always bound to open a Pandora's Box of operatic politics. Praising this recording is not mutually exclusive with disrespecting the exalted status of Callas's. It would be like praising new recordings of Bach's keyboard works on harpsichord, while having to discount musical giants like Glenn Gould who recorded the same works on a modern piano. Rather, it is probably most useful to take this recording of Norma and examine it according to its own merits. After all, nothing like it has been done before (though, notably, Callas herself used smaller, more intimate forces for her recording of Norma.Read more ›
I also have many recordings of Norma (Callas, Gencer, Scotto, Sills, Caballe and Sutherland). I decided to NOT compare this recording to all the old classic ones and listening to it afresh....
The result is infinitely rewarding !!!! I have this opera on heavy rotation since I got this recording and I thoroughly enjoyed and moved by all the performers. The singers, unlike the older recordings (which I also love), portrait the characters in a more humanistic scale and less "monumental" and 'untouchable' as the classic Callas- Caballe- Sills- Sutherland- interpretations.
There are really minimal faults for all the singers, as the project deliberately uses delicate lyrical voices and not the helden- or spinto- voice types to do this recording. I actually find that refreshing.
The Romani-Bellini word-music fusion is even more evident as now the singers can really make EACH word counts.
Even Callas once did something artistically WAY beyond her time at a rehearsal -
"... A coda: In 1957, Maria Callas portrayed Norma in London and sang a very delicate, small-scale "Casta diva" in rehearsal. A colleague complimented her on the approach, and she replied that she considered it the proper way to sing the aria--but that Italian audiences, accustomed to heroic voices, would never stand for it... "
As we see more and more operas being performed with period instruments e.g. Cherubini's Medea, Weber's der freischütz and even Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander... BArtoli's recording/interpretation is long overdue :)
I highly recommend this recording... alongside with all the classic ones I have mentioned earlier :)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My high hopes for recording were not met in this noble attempt that misfires. Love the color of the orchestra, but when the tempos are slow, they are funereal. Read morePublished 8 months ago by J. Carter Joseph
A very intriguing and unusual recording of the opera that EVERY soprano since Maria Callas first brought it back to the center of attention in the 50's (though it was never... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Christopher
For years I have been listening to the Joan Sutherland/Marilyn Horne recording of Norma and was intrigued when I read in Opera News of Cecilia Bartoli's recording with a mezzoish... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Luanne Coachman
SHE IS UNBELIEVABLE WHEN HEARD LIVE. A VERY GREAT MUSICIAN. A MEZZO SOPRANO AND NOT A NORMA. GREATLY MISS THE UPPER RANGE. GO LISTEN TO ROSA PONSELLE SING CASTA DIVA.Published 14 months ago by Lawrence J. Acchione
Absolutely the best recording of Norma I've ever heard and there are plenty of excellent ones out there! Read morePublished 16 months ago by Michael P. Cascia
Norma is not my number one favorite bel canto opera (that vote would go to Lucia). It is constantly full-blooded, overheated, and oh-so-serious while also trying to make the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by alarmi
Bartoli and Jo are an electric team. Brilliant performance of one of the greatest bel canto operasPublished 20 months ago by DavidJB
There's little I can add to the reviews hereabouts so I'll make it short and sweet:
Bartoli's Norma is a revelation. Period.