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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Bellini: Norma

01/07/2018 1:00 pm
01/07/2018 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

We begin the broadcast year 2018 with what you might call "Golden Age" programming, hearkening back to what many opera lovers consider to be a golden age for opera singers in the early and mid twentieth century. Those immortal voices of the past have been preserved on acetate disc or reel-to-reel tape for us to hear again today in the twenty-first century, often sounding even better now thanks to digital sound enhancement technology.

One such immortal voice was that of soprano Maria Callas (1923-77). In 1952 Callas was at the height of her vocal powers when she made her London debut in Bellini's Norma at Covent Garden. She was recorded live in performance on that historic occasion. Norma was a role that Callas made her own. In fact, she sang the role 92 times in her career from 1949 until 1965 when she retired from the operatic stage. Callas possessed the requisite agility of voice for Bellini operas. She took part in the general revival of bel canto singing alongside soprano Joan Sutherland, who also sang that night in November, 1952 at Covent Garden as Clotilde. Vittorio Gui was conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House.

This monaural recording of Norma was reissued on two compact discs in 2017 through Warner Classics in the "Callas Live Remastered" series.