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Subject: Re: Caballé's 1973 'Norma'
From: tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 25 Jul 2017 20:55:24 +0000
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I only saw Caballe's Norma once, probably the 73 broadcast you mentioned and, like you, did not find it memorable. Yet, the Orange performance is incredible, perhaps, overall, the best  Sung performance of Norma. I doubt if any other great soprano sang Casta Diva as well as she did that night. I know most here would much prefer Callas, no matter how poorly she sounded.  Sutherland was a great Norma, especially in the last act, which was thrilling. IMO, No One soprano owns Violetta or Tosca, as there have been so many great one's over the years.  The other night, on You Tube, I heard Zeani's last act of her Met debut. Her aria was received by one of the greatest ovations, I ever heard at the Met. I was there that night and thought she was a great Violetta. Only Caballe's last act was her vocal equal.  I think there is much to be admired in a singer, like Caballe, who can sing so many types of roles very well or better. Like many, Caballe was usually dramatically better live than on recordings. I found her very emotionally involved in a few concert opera performances, especially Maria Stuarda, at Carnegie Hall.  No great singer is perfect.


________________________________
From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2017 4:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Caballé's 1973 'Norma'

Interesting observation.  I was never able to make much of a connection with Caballe' either ------ after she really came into her own.  I was pretty unimpressed by her "Introducing Montserrat Caballe" on RCA in 1966 (was in my first year of Undergraduate School at the time), but then I did a complete about-face when I heard her Rare Verdi, Rare Rossini, and Rare Donizetti arias. Three fabulously sung recitals later joined together on RCA on CD. Wasn't all that carried away by "Traviata" or "Borgia" either. Then came the Leindsorf RCA recording of her "Salome" ---------- and she blew me away.  Couldn't believe that THIS opera could possibly be in her repertoire at all. In fact, to my ears, Salome remains Caballe's role.  Despite the excitement over her Norma, I never much appreciated it, despite those beautiful piano notes she was able to contrive so effortlessly.  For me, her Norma, like that of Sutherland's, lacked "bite" and real conviction. I own the 1973 Met broadcast, and I don't hear much to change my opinion.
she made it sound too much like an "assembly line" opera in her repertoire though she sang it very well indeed.  Don't care for the studio recording on RCA at all, but I DO find her 1974 Orange Festival live performance a big improvement.  I do not hear outright "flatness", but there are moments when she seems to be catching some of the notes by the underside, which can create an aural illusion of flatness.  One interesting thing about Caballe:  I can't think of any role she really "made her own".  I mean, there was the Flagstad Isolde, the Lehmann Fidelio and Seigliende, the Callas Norma and Traviata, the Vickers Otello and Peter Grimes, the Gobbi Scarpia, the Milanov Donna Leonora,  the Tebaldi Desdemona, the Price Aida, the Corelli Calaf, the Nilsson Turandot, etc.
     I can't seem to find a defining opera for Caballe.  She was a fabulous jack-of-all-trades, but for which role is she really remembered?  Just a thought.  Maybe it only in my own mind.
> On July 25, 2017 at 12:44 PM David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>
> I begin by saying what I have said here before, that I never managed to
> achieve an emotional connection with Caballé's voice and so did not listen
> to her much in her prime.  (I heard her only once in the theater in the late
> 60's and have no very vivid memories.)  As the saying goes, "It's my problem
> and not hers."  But the Met Sirius channel has been playing her famous 1973
> 'Norma' with Cossotto, and I do have a question to put.  The floating high
> notes above the staff and paranormal breath control are no doubt there, but
> to my ears (I have heard the performance twice now) in the middle she sings
> flat virtually the whole night, making for some awkward moments with
> Cossotto, who at that point was solid as a rock.  Was this noticed at the
> time by anyone?  Was it for some reason a fleeting aberration of the evening
> or could it happen throughout her career?
>
> Thanks.
>
> David Kubiak
>
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