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Subject: Re: Opinions on the live NORMA from 1977 with Caballe and Cossotto?
From: "Takis Pavl." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Takis Pavl.
Date:Wed, 22 Nov 2017 07:49:54 +0000
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 With plenty of pre-1975 Norma performances of Caballe and Cossotto to choose from, I see no reason to go for the 1977 recording unless you want to hear them with Muti. They both sound past their primes there. Her Norma at La Scala - also with Cossotto (1972), Orange (1974), Bolshoi (1974), Lausanne (1974), Lisbon (1972), Madrid (1971), Naples (1973), Barcelona (1973) are all to be preferred.
Caballe underwent surgery to remove a big stomach tumor after the Orange Norma in 1974. You can clearly hear a change in the top register after her return. Although I'm a fan of hers, I avoid most of her recordings after that crucial year, especially the ones with exposed top notes like Lucia which could have worked had she recorded it in the late 60s. And as noted by others, she started employing tricks to tackle the florid passages that by the Ermione performances in 1987, had become unbearable. 
For a lyric soprano with such a sumptuous voice, Caballe in her prime had fantastic coloratura skills. The early RCA recordings, especially that rarities collection prove it. In the same league I can only think of the young Fleming, Millo, perhaps Vaness and the young Dessi. Other lyrics like Ricciarelli, Carteri, Janowitz, Della Casa, Schwarzkopf, Te Kanawa, Netrebko, Freni, simply pale in comparison with what Caballe did in her prime.
I don't understand why Caballe's florid skills should be compared to Callas or Sutherland. They were not lyric sopranos. A lyric soprano brings different qualities to the same roles. Caballe produced a pure lyric soprano tone that the other two could only dream of. And with that flare of coloratura she gave us a taste of both worlds.  Takis


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