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Bellini: Norma / Cecilia Bartoli, Sumi Jo, John Osborn, Michele Pertusi

Album Summary

>Bellini, Vincenzo : Norma, opera
Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

For generations Bellini's "Norma" has been looked at from the vantage point of the Verismo era at the beginning of the 20th century. Now Cecilia Bartoli unveils the opera's original pre-romantic style and color by taking Norma back to its roots.

For the first time ever the entire music is recorded with period instrument from Bellini's time. Traditional cuts are reinstated. Keys and tonalities are put back into place and the music is executed according to Bellini's own tempo indications.

The leading characters were selected according to Bellini's own choice o vocal colors: Bellini wrote Norma for Giuditta Pasta, who sang many parts which today are considered mezzoprano roles. Adalgisa was sung by Giulia Grisi, a light soprano, and Pollione by Domenico Donzelli, who had a flexible, Rossini-style tenor voice.

A new critical music edition was compiled from the autograph score and many manuscript sources.

The Times, 24th May 2013
Wonderfully acrobatic, Bartoli's warm voice is neatly complemented by the silver-streaked Adalgisa of the South Korean Sumi Jo...Osborn's evenly flowing tenor makes Pollione a plausible babe magnet, even to Druids...Rustic winds, resinous strings, tart brass and shivering percussion all add dramatic colouring to Bellini's magnificent music...Pin back your ears and enjoy.

The Independent, 1st June 2013
The timbres of Orchestra La Scintilla are enchanting, the chorus robust, the whole admirably paced by conductor Giovanni Antonini.

The Guardian, 13th June 2013
Its principal revelations lie in the orchestral sound, stark and abrasive rather than comfortingly smooth, Giovanni Antonini's urgent conducting, and, above all, in Jo's immensely touching depiction of ruined innocence.

Gramophone Magazine, July 2013
Bartoli floats soprano-range notes but with a mezzo timbre that suits the priestess Norma's age...under Antonini's volatile direction the lean penetrating sonority of the orchestra makes a good case for the score's big effects...All too rarely, though, does Bartoli spin a lyric line with simple expressiveness...But Bartoli is the best current Norma out there.

International Record Review, July/August 2013
Despite using period instruments, the orchestra never sounds undernourished...Bartoli is, most assuredly, Bartoli, and if you are allergic to her in general, you will remain so...Yet you will hear things in her performance that will illuminate aspects of the character as never before...it is a pleasure to hear [the opera] stripped and clear.

American Record Guide, September/October 2013
Sumi Jo is a lightweight Adalgisa. She sings quite nicely, with easy top notes and deft coloratura. After such tenors as Vickers, Corelli, Domingo, or Bergonzi, John Osborn is really a featherweight. He's a sensitive singer, and his Pollione is quite likable. He also matches the two leading ladies well He has good top Cs. Pertusi is the only cast member with a sizable voice. The orchestra is based at the Zurich Opera House, and their period instruments bray and whistle.


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Works Details

>Bellini, Vincenzo : Norma, opera
  • Conductor: Giovanni Antonini
  • Running Time: 5 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1831