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Subject: Re: 1st act of Norma in HD
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sat, 7 Oct 2017 19:37:07 -0400
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Idia Legray wrote:

"Sondra was absolutely spectacular from beginning to end."

Well...not in the first act, IMO.

The opening scene - recitative, aria and cabaletta - was a bit of a mess.  Now granted, I cut 
any soprano some slack for "Casta Diva," which is a downright sadistic warm-up piece.  But 
my problem with La Rad's singing in the first scene, and parts of the second, was that there 
were isolated beautiful phrases and moments but I never had the feeling of a firm, steady 
legato line that was going somewhere.  At times it was like she was pecking at the music.  
But in the second act she was great from start to finish.  She is an estimable Norma, fully 
worthy of the part notwithstanding this afternoon's blemishes.  (In fairness to Radvanovsky, 
I've heard several live recordings of Sutherland and Caballe in which they don't really get 
going until well past the first scene.)

Di Donato's bright, clear tone and focused singing was welcome, as always.  I did not like 
her emphatic, proto-feminist take on Adalgisa - I think that is foreign to the part as written 
- but given that approach, she did it well.  Calleja was excellent, at least as heard by the 
mics.  Rose did not belong in that company.  (I recently heard Pinza in a 1937 Met 
broadcast - with Cigna - so admittedly my ears were spoiled.  But even so, Rose was no 
better than so-so.)   Nice conducting.

(All the above comments are made with the caveat that HD telecasts can significantly 
distort what was actually heard in-house, magnifying annoying things that would not be 
noticeable heard in person or, in some cases, making people sound better than they do 
live.) 

The production was dull as dishwater and served to demonstrate that a "traditional" 
approach can be as objectionable as some Eurotrash take.  What was Norma living in - a 
wooden Pantheon?

Nice to give the kiddies a bow.

It will be interesting to hear Angela Meade's performance later in the run.

MDW

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