Thursday, 21 May 2009

269. Vincenzo Bellini - Norma (1831)


Title: Norma
Performers: Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1964
Length: 3 hours


After the slightly lacklustre Sonnambula Bellini gives us a truly great opera, Norma. Even if I might have some problems with the plot, where for such a strong female character Norma is a bit silly with men and her lover's conversion at the end is a bit too sudden, it is hard to fault it musically.

Musically it is a great opera indeed, from the truly impressive choirs to such beautiful arias as Casta Diva, Bellini does not put a foot wrong. It is also quite a good opera to watch, despite the plot faults it is never boring and there are enough points of musical interest to keep you paying attention throughout.

As Bel Canto goes, the title character of the opera is surely one of the most demanding in the repertoire and here Joan Sutherland does a great job of it... but she would. Recommended.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The title role is generally considered one of the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. It calls for tremendous vocal control of range, flexibility, and dynamics. It contains a wide range of emotions: conflict of personal and public life, romantic life, maternal love, friendship, jealousy, murderous intent, and resignation. German soprano Lilli Lehmann once famously remarked on how the singing of all three Brünnhildes in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in one evening was less stressful than the singing of one Norma.[2] However, her less famous reasoning was that "When you sing Wagner, you are so carried away by the dramatic emotion, the action, and the scene that you do not have to think how to sing the words. That comes of itself. But in Bellini, you must always have a care for beauty of tone and correct emission."

Casta Diva with Monserrat Caballe:

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