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Subject: Re: Caballé's 1973 'Norma'
From: "Takis Pavl." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Takis Pavl.
Date:Tue, 25 Jul 2017 23:30:54 +0000

text/plain (27 lines)

Les you've said this before about Caballe and I gave you then a long list of roles I find her definitive in. So I do think it's in your own mind. 

That list included Lucrezia Borgia (the debut either at Carnegie or even more so, at La Scala are definitive performances), Caterina Cornaro, Parisina, Straniera, Imogene (The Florence performance is exceptional) and yes, Norma. There are so many Norma performances with Caballe that I find it hard to choose my favourite. The first Scala performance is amazing in its freshness and spontaneity, I love the Bolshoi performance because she seems so confident and the legendary Orange Norma needs no introductions. Her Norma: "The mother" approach to the role as the director of her Orange Norma put it is for me the most moving portrayal of the role. I happened to watch it again a few days ago and it hasn't lost its magic. No, the MET Norma was disappointing but you have a dozen of others to choose from. 

Callas, who was for me the definitive Medea and Armida, as Norma reminds me of the remark, was it by Simionato (?) "she was tragic but never moving". I like her Norma for her musicality and precision but it doesn't move me. Even in the first scene with Adalgisa you never hear any friendship between Callas and her Adalgisas. Caballe's love and care for them is very touching and that makes the shock and anger when she finds out about Pollione even more exciting. Callas by comparison sounds constantly angry and vengeful which doesn't allow me to sympathise with her Norma. I find the layers of Caballe's portayal and the colours in her voice fascinating. In "In mia man" that colour Caballe uses for "Già Mi Pasco Ne' Tuoi Sguardi" is such an interesting touch I've never heard by any other Norma. And the final scene with Oroveso is heartbreakingly sung and performed with her masterful breath control of those long phrases. How this mother reaches for Oroveso's hand and begs him must have melted every single heart in that open-air theatre..unbelievable performance. 

Final note, those Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi rarities you liked are indeed some of her finest work on record. Reviewing them, Rodolfo Celletti described her singing as "the peak of bel canto".

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