Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Bellini - Norma / Joan Sutherland Margreta Elkins Ron Stevens Clifford Grant Richard Bonynge Opera Australia|
Actors: Trevor Brown, Etela Piha
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
A powerful story of love, betrayal and honor, Bellini's opera Norma is a classic of the bel canto tradition, combining lavish vocal splendor with a story of great passion and nobility. Set in Ancient Gaul, Norma tells of t... more »
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Caveat Emptor (Or Is My Copy An Atypical, Individually Defec
Pablo Thompson | West Covina. Ca | 06/30/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Although the title role of "Norma" was the greatest one in Dame Joan's repertoire, few even of her most ardent fans (and I'm one) would maintain she gave her greatest performances in it. That honor is usually reserved for her roles in "Lucia," "Semiramide," or "Lucrezia Borgia." Nevertheless, hers was a supremely listenable, often beautifully sung Norma, and therefore, when she was in good voice, a memorable one.
In this Australian Opera production she was, happily enough, at her best. The "Casta Diva" excerpt on the recently released DVD "The Best of Joan Sutherland" documents this beyond dispute, and for this reason, I purchased the just released complete DVD of the work. I was eagerly expecting, at a minimum, an improvement in picture and sound over her later Canadian DVD performance. Consequently, it is with great regret I must point out that Kultur not only did not see fit to digitally remaster the video, but, worse, even succeeded (in my copy at least) in monumentally screwing up the audio, so that the sound drifts in and out of focus and tune. So poor is the sound that I'll defer reviewing the actual performance until I get a replacement to see if my current response is to a lone wayward disc, or if other parts of the lot are similarly afflicted. Once before, in a "Mikado" from the Australian Opera Company, similar and widespread audio transfer problems were reported on this website. I would be eager to hear that this is not the case with other copies of "Norma," so I hope any reviewers with successful copies will rate the work here and set me straight.
August 2, 2006 UPDATE. Today I returned my replacement copy of this opera to the retailer, who put it on his equipment and agreed after only a short period of playing that the sound was indeed grotesquely distorted. The problems I've experienced twice now can not be attributed to the deficiencies of a 1979 telecast. If the date were the problem, there'd be no explaining why the "Casta Diva" excerpt on "The Best of Joan Sutherland" is excellent, while the same aria on the DVD of the complete opera is in stretches nearly unlistenable. Furthermore, having had a friend play me the VHS performance of this "Norma" on Home Vision Video, I'd be at a loss to explain why the sound there is excellent throughout. In transferring this performance to DVD, Kultur or its affiliates bungled some or all of the copies. The company would do well to examine the release for quality control and very likely a necessary remastering."
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is in 1978, and Sutherland just a bit past her amazing prime as the greatest coloratura soprano of our time, plus she was having a bad day. The high notes not brilliant, and "Casta Diva" is shaky and off key, and sounded pushed, much like Callas...instead buy the diva's 1964 Norma released by decca with Marilyn Horne as her equal partner."
Fine performances, poor recording
A viewer from Summit, NJ | Summit, NJ USA | 09/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Norma" isn't performed often, probably because it taxes its two main sopranos to the limit. In this 1978 Australian performance, the great Joan Sutherland, in the title role, is handsomely augmented by a young and fresh mezzo, Margreta Elkins, as Adelgisa. Together, they occasionally make the magic that's latent in Bellini's masterpiece. Sutherland is just ok in the famous "Casta Diva," but is awe-inspiring in the follow-up aria, "Fine al Rito." I've replayed this aria at least 500 times and I'm still thunderstruck at how La Stupenda is able to sing louder and louder, higher and higher, faster and faster, OVER the orchestra and chorus, without even breathing hard. Oh, how wonderful! But then Elkins makes her welcome appearance, and the full sensitivity and beauty of Bellini's lyrics shine. They are splendid together. Unfortunately, the quality of the video on my tape was just passable, and the sound was awful. But the performances are streets better than two Canadian versions with Sutherland (one on DVD) that I've also seen. Joan and Margreta, thou swell!"
Not bad, but not her best
Pablo Thompson | 08/15/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Norma is slightly better than the 1981 version, but far worst than her live recording and her 1964 studio recording with Horne.This was an off day if this recording was recorded in 1978 as it said on the cover of my copy. The casta diva was droopy and pushed. The high notes not quite secure. The coloratura not accurate. It's not bad though, but not a hit.However, if you want to hear La Stupenda when she was the reigning queen of bel canto, I would recommend the follow VHS tapes. The singing in those are magnificent.The "Voice of Firestone" The "Bell Telephone Hour" The "Age of bel canto""