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Subject: Caballe & Coloratura (was Re: Opinions on the live NORMA, etc.)
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sun, 19 Nov 2017 23:37:02 -0500

text/plain (44 lines)

Tom Frey wrote:

"since [Caballe] did at least record Lucia and Puritani I don't see how she could totally avoid 
coloratura elements in these pieces not to even mention Norma with the cabaletta after 
Casta Diva"

To my ears, Caballe frequently "managed" coloratura passages rather than dominating them 
like Sutherland or Callas did.  She certainly was not bad, but she frequently got the job 
done with little "cheating" tricks, like taking the tone off the breath and retreating into 
pianissimo instead of singing full out.  You can hear these tricks in her recording of "Vien, 
diletto" in the Muti recording of Puritani in which she pecks at the coloratura, rather than 
singing it full out as Sutherland and Callas do:

Similarly, in "Ah, non tremare" in Norma, in live performances you can hear that Caballe 
snatched at the coloratura, dropping notes here and there, rather than crushing it like Callas 
or Sutherland did.

On the other hand, Caballe's "Sempre libera" on the complete Traviata recording is superb.  
There she DOES dominate the coloratura and comes through with flying colors, no cheating!

IMO Caballe's gifts as a bel canto singer lay more in her wonderful legato line and dynamic 
control although her coloratura was usually OK and sometimes more.  For me, Caballe's 
"Norma" in Orange and Callas' 1955 La Scala performances are the two greatest 
performances of the role ever recorded, vocally and dramatically.  Very different, but equally 


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