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Subject: NORMA's high def presentation
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 8 Oct 2017 15:50:45 -0400
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I haven't attended all that many HD presentations, but I've attended enough to make 
a comparison to yesterday's Norma.  First of all, I was not happy with the way the sound 
was being transmitted ----- and I didn't think the volume was high enough, especially in 
the first act.  Moreover, to my ears, it didn't sound as clear as I would have wished.  I 
know that the others I've attended in the past sounded more "vivid" and clearer.  In the 
first act, it sounded to me like there was a scrim-like quality to the sound.
     Moving on, I didn't care for the production at all.  Were the Druids active only during 
the middle of the night?  And the costumes!  The Druids looked like cavemen under the 
command of Attila the Hun (If you ever saw the 1955 film "Sign of the Pagan" with Jack 
Palance (1955), you know what I mean.  Mr. Rose's Oroveso made me yearn for the 
sounds of Cesare Siepi or Samuel Ramey.  diDonato's costume and appearance did her no 
justice, and I saw no reason for Adalgisa to be almost worshiping Norma during the Casta 
Diva and the cabaletta.  Why was she there at all?   I thought the kids were cute, and I 
enjoyed Radvanovsky's interaction with them.  
     I admire and respect Radvanovsky's Norma.  Those high pianos are gorgeous to be 
sure, and her voice is certainly up the the demands of the role.  Hers is a beautiful 
creation.  I must confess that I missed the Callas-like venom and weighty low chest notes 
at the bottom of the voice as well as the sheer thrust of her incisive consonants.  
Radvanovsky simply doesn't have these in her vocal arsenal ----- but Callas certainly 
didn't have the piano soft notes of Radvanovsky!   I found diDonato wonderful as always, 
and the duets were beautifully done.  
    What I really appreciated was the restoration of the rapid "stretto" music towards the 
end of the Pollione/Adalgisa duet in Act I.  I love that music.  And even more significantly, 
I was thrilled to hear that sublime Moon Rise music after the "Guerra, Guerra" chorus, 
which is so frequently omitted.  I find this music so moving and the very essence of what 
bel canto is ------ with the harp accompanying the orchestra.   
    I have to confess that I love the opera and HAVE loved it since I heard it when I was 
sixteen (on both Callas studio recordings).  Then, of course, I bought the 
Sutherland/Horne recording and while I loved the Bonynge orchestral additions, as well as 
Sutherland's embellishments, and of course, Marilyn Horne.  Sutherland's Norma?  All 
technically perfect, but for me, such perfection led to boredom very fast.  I don't think 
that Sutherland ever scratched the emotional surface of Norma. For the most part she 
sang most of the role on vowel sounds.  She wasn't big on emphasizing consonants. Her 
Norma was a perfect statue - devoid of fire and passion.  But what a sound she made!

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