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Subject: Caballe's Norma at the Met
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sun, 8 Oct 2017 19:34:10 -0400
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I saw Caballe and Verrett in "Norma" at the Met in 1976.  Unlike Bob Rideout and Tom Ponti, 
however, I remember it well, although my recollections are not favorable to Caballe.  My 
strongest memory of my reaction was disappointment in Caballe, whom I had been looking 
forward to hearing.  She was dramatically inert, apart from some train-twitching, and at times 
shrill, vocally.  Most of all I was disappointed because she did not float her expected  
trademark pianissimos at some key places.  For example, in the high line in the recitative just 
before Clotilde's entrance in the last act, she let out a loud squawk on the high note.  Verrett, 
on the other hand, was in fantastic voice and interpolated some high notes that put Caballe 
to shame.  I remember thinking, "no wonder Verrett is planning to sing Norma!"  Backstage 
afterwards, when she was signing my program, I asked Verrett if she considered herself a 
soprano or mezzo, and she said soprano.  Maybe Caballe was just having a bad night.  I have 
the broadcast but haven't listened to it in some time, so I don't if her singing that night was 
typical of the whole run.  (I was also scheduled to see Caballe as Aida that season but she 
canceled and I got Liljana Molnar-Talajic instead!)

Incidentally, my program from that night (which is one of my treasures) was signed not only 
by Caballe and Verrett, but also by Milanov, Sayao and Albanese, all of whom I saw on the 
Grand Tier during intermission.  So I have a program signed by three Normas!  Being young, 
brash and stupid, I asked Milanov while she was signing  what she thought of Caballe's 
Norma.  She just smiled as she signed and murmured something indistinct.  Very tactful, and 
an example of the old adage that there are no tactless questions, only tactless answers!

MDW

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