Buy “Vincenzo Bellini, Antonino Votto, Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Boris Christoff, Raimondo Botteghelli, Elena Nicolai, Bruna Ronchini – BelliniNorma Excerpts / Maria Callas (Trieste, November 19, 1953) – Music” Online

Bellini:Norma Excerpts / Maria Callas (Trieste, November 19, 1953)

It is strange that none of Amazon customers avid fans of the art of Maria Callas (1923-77) was not interested to discover this performance of excerpts of Vincenzo Bellini (1801-35) Masterpiece Norma. Also the recording on Italian Label Idi( Italian Disc Inst. ) did not receive any reviews so far. I purchased this edition of Norma on Melodram Label , which is still available on at the very extremely high price. The reason I would like to review this performance is because it is only the third recording available with Maria Callas and Boris Christoff. The previous twoAre Wagner’s Parsifal recorded in 1950 and Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani recorded in1951, both authorized editions , not copied from other recordings but from original sources. Unfortunately the present performance of Norma is available only in excerpts . Total time 93. 35 min. Desplte of the cuts it is a great performance and it ranks among the. Best recordings of all Callas Normas. All of the performing artists are in their primes particularly Callas and Christoff . ‘ The singing of Casta diva on records ( which comprise no fever than eighteen different versions , in addition to the two master classes she gave on that aria ) . ‘ In Trieste , Callas singing of the cavatina exudes calm, repose, and serenity , the fortissimo ascents to the hi Bflat is very impressive in both verses. The cqbaletta – capped by a blazingHigh C – sounds as if sung on one long breath. ‘ ‘ As it might be expected , Boris Christoff ‘s Oroveso ( the only one recorded live) is an imposing , solemn one . The bass vocal splendor and authority have been rarely matched in this role , just as in so many other cases as well. ‘ Fortunately the parts sung by Callas and Christoff , are almost complete. , therefore this recording issued on Divina 2 CD’s is perhaps the only authorized recording , available in the best possible sound. The other issues mentioned above have added material rrom different recordings, just to claim it Complete. Highly recommended for Callas real fans and lovers of Boris Christoff’s Art. Check it out!




Bellini:Norma Excerpts / Maria Callas (Trieste, November 19, 1953) Review


It needs to be emphasised that this is an authentic and complete a record of the live 1953 performance as can be bought, whereas the Melodram issue from 1991 is a a complete hodgepodge of a fabrications, patching the final result with snippets from recordings made between 1949 and 1958. No doubt Melodram aimed simply to produce as close a representation as possible of that evening of November 19th but it isn’t an honest product insofar as their labelling gives no indication of their disparate sources or of the fact that less than half of the music is from Trieste and it was in fact ultimately withdrawn. This Divina issue, however, is the real thing, having collected and re-mastered all the surviving excerpts of the Trieste recording as could be found. It is thus almost complete, running to 100 minutes; notable omissions are the overture and practically two thirds of the music from the Act I duet "Oh rimembranza!" but it would seem that this is as good as we are ever going to get unless more supposedly lost material emerges. All this and more regarding other Callas "fakes and forgeries" is explained in detail by Callas enthusiasts and experts Milan Petkovic and Dr Robert E. Seletsky in the extensive and fascinating CD-ROM support material , which includes articles regarding Callas in "Norma", "Tosca" and "Turandot", photographs, reviews, audio samples, discographies and a catalogue. Having said all that, it must be admitted that even after expert clean-up the muddy, distorted, mono sound, plagued by interference, is such that it can only appeal to historical buffs. Ensemble is a murky mess; Individual voices, however, emerge comparatively unscathed and with a cast such as this it is there that most interest will be concentrated, opening with Christoff’s grand, steady and imposing Oroveso – his only one on record and easily the best of all accounts of the High Priest. Corelli is in his sappiest, most ringing voice, the youthful tremulousness in his vibrato now under control; despite the sheer size and voluptuousness of his sound he employs some pleasing subtleties such as careful diminuendos – which became his trade mark and which perhaps contributed to his decline. As is so often the case with a role which demands vocal heft and a trenchant lower register, Elena Nicolai sounds a too mature and stentorian for the supposedly young and vulnerable Adalgisa, but she shares that minor handicap with many a successful exponent of that role such as Stignani, Ludwig, Cossotto and Tourangeau – and the voice per se is splendid. Callas is in her finest vocal estate, just during her dramatic weight loss period and the onset of insecurities. This is arguably her best "Casta diva" and virtually everything goes as she intends it to. The later refinements which accompanied encroaching frailties are missing; she sings "straight" and very beautifully. Were the sound better, I would unhesitatingly recommend it as her best outing as Norma, but I still return to the 1955 performances with the same conductor and the other with Serafin and even to the 1960 studio recording for the benefits of enhanced insight and more grateful acoustics. -Read Reviews-

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