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Subject: Re: Norma
From: David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 27 Jan 2018 16:16:55 -0500
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Just a few notes, since the opera has been much discussed.  Rad. was not in
as good voice as she was for the Chicago 'Norma' last year.  In particular,
she seemed last night to have completely lost her trill, which I remember as
being quite good. Calleja I still reserve judgment on, since I have not seen
him in the house, and broadcasts don't transmit a voice as it really is.  In
terms of what I could discern the way his voice works and the narrow column
of sound he sings with, he still sounds like a classic 'tenore di grazia' to
me. Di Donato sounded challenged to the end of her resources, and sometimes
beyond them, when we got vibrato but not much tone.

The production could have been infinitely worse, but it still illustrates to
me major problems today with opera as an art form.  Why did everyone have to
be doing something in every bar of music?  They kept lighting and putting
out the candles on that Advent wreath thing they had going to the point of
its being slightly comic.  Why should Pollione cut his hand when he is
singing a cabaletta about the power of love?  I could multiply examples, but
what really struck me is something that I think crucial.  There is a YouTube
clip of Callas rehearsing the 'Casta diva' of her last 'Norma'.  Forget
about the condition of the voice.  There is around her a remarkable aura of
what the Italians would call 'grandezza', which is certainly one of the
things that mesmerized me when I first starting going to the opera as a
teenager.  What did Rad. do last night?  She comes in, lies down on her back
on the ground, then rises to sing 'Casta diva' with this person looking like
Peter Pan (as we learn, Adalgisa) upstaging her with weird hand motions. 
When Rad. finally got up and came down for the cabaletta she looked like a
distressed washer woman.  It was flat, vulgar, and common.  I admire her
singing very much, but 'grandezza' -- I give her an F.  And how could she
acquire this numinous presence on stage when her whole career has been
managed by flat, vulgar, and common stage directors?

Enough griping.  I do have a question.  Is 'Mira o Norma' sung in different
keys?  It sounded high to me last night.

David Kubiak

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