Bonynge: Bellini - Norma (3 CD, FLAC)
Bonynge: Bellini - Norma (3 CD, FLAC)

Audio CD
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 3
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 738 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Norma, opera
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
with Yvonne Minton, Richard Cross, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, John Alexander
Conducted by Richard Bonynge

Disc: 1
01. Norma, opera: Sinfonia
02. Norma, opera: Act 1: Introduzione – Ite sul colle, o Druidi
03. Norma, opera: Act 1: Svanir le voci!
04. Norma, opera: Act 1: Meco all’altar di Venere era Adalgisa in Roma
05. Norma, opera: Act 1: Me protegge, me difende un poter maggior di loro
06. Norma, opera: Act 1: Norma viene
07. Norma, opera: Act 1: Sediziose voci, voci di guerra
08. Norma, opera: Act 1: Casta Diva, che inargenti queste sacre antiche piante
09. Norma, opera: Act 1: Fine al rito
10. Norma, opera: Act 1: Ah! bello a me ritorna del fido amor primiero
11. Norma, opera: Act 1: Sgombra è la sacra selva, compiuto il rito
12. Norma, opera: Act 1: Deh! proteggimi, o Dio
13. Norma, opera: Act 1: Eccola! va’, mi lascia non odo
14. Norma, opera: Act 1: Va’, crudele, al Dio spietato offri in dono il sangue mio

Disc: 2
01. Norma, opera: Act 1: Vanne e li cela entranbi
02. Norma, opera: Act 1: Adalgisa! – Alma, costanza
03. Norma, opera: Act 1: Oh! rimembranza!
04. Norma, opera: Act 1: Ah! sì, fa core, e abbracciami
05. Norma, opera: Act 1: Ma di’…l’amato giovane quale fra noi si mona?
06. Norma, opera: Act 1: Oh non tremare, o perfido
07. Norma, opera: Act 1: Oh! di qual sei tu vittima
08. Norma, opera: Act 1: Oh! qual traspare orribile
09. Norma, opera: Act 1: Norma! de’ tuoi rimproveri sefno non farmi adesso
10. Norma, opera: Act 1: Perfido! – Or basti
11. Norma, opera: Act 1: Vanne, sì: mi lascia, indegno

Disc: 3
01. Norma, opera: Act 2: Introduzione
02. Norma, opera: Act 2: Dormono entrambi…non vedran la mano che li percuote
03. Norma, opera: Act 2: Me chiami, o Norma!
04. Norma, opera: Act 2: Deh! con te, con te li prendi
05. Norma, opera: Act 2: Mira, o Norma, a’ tuoi ginocchi questi cari tuoi pargoletti
06. Norma, opera: Act 2: Sì. fino all’ore estreme compagna tua m’avrai
07. Norma, opera: Act 2: Non parti?
08. Norma, opera: Act 2: Guerrieri! a voi venirne credea foriero d’avvenir migliore
09. Norma, opera: Act 2: Ei tornerà
10. Norma, opera: Act 2: Squilla il bronzo del Dio!
11. Norma, opera: Act 2: Guerra, guerra!
12. Norma, opera: Act 2: Né compi il rito, o Norma? né la vittima accenni?
13. Norma, opera: Act 2: In mia man alfin tu sei
14. Norma, opera: Act 2: Dammi quel ferro – Che osi? Scostati
15. Norma, opera: Act 2: Qual cor tradisti, qual cor perdesti quest’ora orrenda ti manifesti
16. Norma, opera: Act 2: Norma! deh! Norma. scolpati!
17. Norma, opera: Act 2: Deh! non volerli vittime del mio fatle errore

Fifty years old and a landmark recording

It is true that I sometimes find Bonynge’s beat a bit limp and I concede that to love this set you must have a taste for Sutherland’s soprano. To some, she was and remains the prima donna assoluta in her chosen territory and even if she sometimes lacks the variety of a soprano sfogato like Callas, her singing per se is often simply breath-taking. What trills, what legato, what agility. As always, the power as she rises up and above the stave is astonishing and she is worthily partnered, especially by Marilyn Horne who, despite being neither the soprano for whom the role was written or having a voice which sounds as if it would complement her Norma, seems to match Sutherland perfectly. One reason is the complete unity of their phrasing; they listen carefully and match each other perfectly in those passages in thirds.

Both Americans John Alexander and Richard Cross, despite having distinguished careers, were relatively little recorded but they really shine here, having refined, passionate, properly registered voices of the old school. Alexander is especially virile and impressive, avoiding the clumsiness which sometimes afflicted the Pollione of tenors like Del Monaco and Corelli without ever sounding effete.

You will read some very strange, absurd and off-base reviews of this landmark recording. It was Norma, along with Lucia and Alcina which put Sutherland on the map as one of the greatest dramatic-lyric coloratura sopranos ever and enabled her to consolidate what Callas had begun in wresting such roles away from tweety-birds to big-voiced singers able to do them proper justice. One of the daftest things I read too often is the “theory” that she was a pushed-up mezzo; I am quite certain that no singer whose true Fach lay in a lower tessitura could expand the way she does as she soars up to top C, D and E-flat.

The later recording has its merits but this is closer to perfection and captures Sutherland in her youthful prime shortly after she burst upon the operatic world.

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