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Over the past century there have been many recordings of Norma, not all of them memorable, and in the early months of 2013 they were joined by yet another with the mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in the title role. This recording seeks to produce a Norma as it would have sounded when it was new so before it can be discussed, let us attempt to turn the clock back to the mid-19th Century.
In the mid-19th Century we encounter a totally different operatic world to the one we know today. Even though Bellini’s life was tragically cut short when he was only 34, he was not a prolific composer. He only composed 10 operas whereas in the same time span Pacini composed almost 20 and Donizetti composed coming up to 30. Every year operas were churned out at an astonishing rate and an opera that last twenty years was a rarity. In 1845, 11 years after Bellini’s death, the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung’s Italian correspondent noted that in the previous 8 years, 342 new operas had been staged in Italy alone and 130 new composers (Verdi included) had made their debut.
Link: http://www.operavivra.com/articles/revi ... a-bartoli/
Opera Vivrà - o gioia!
I'm not so sure as to what an on-stage production would be like and I was sceptical before listening to Bartoli's recording. As the article says about Bartoli's portrayal of Norma, it depends on whether or not you're a Bartoli fan. Personally, I've liked Bartoli in other roles but I'm not convinced that she's the ideal Norma. What the recording attempts to do as a whole is to present the opera as it would have sounded in Bellini's day and in that I would say that it succeeds. It moves along at a brisk pace and I've become more at ease with it the more I've listened to it. Our own personal preferences aside, it's worth having on the shelves anyway.
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