T. McNamee | 03/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was a treat to watch Caballé in the 1971 concert version of Norma, Act 1. However, it is her bonus recital from Madrid in 1979 with Zanetti at the piano that is simply ravishing. It is difficult to single out favorites, but I will choose three: Sposa, son disprezzata + Elegia eterna + Me llaman la primorosa. A priceless moment occurs during the Cherubini when MC's sheet music and stand collapse to knee-height, and she doesn't miss a beat. The singing throughout the recital is stunning, and not to be missed."
Updated: 2 very different performances on 1 DVD
Claudia N. Davidsen | Ruskin, FL | 09/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, the Norma: This is a superb concert performance of Bellini's Norma. Just remember that it was recorded in 1971, black and white, grade C camera work, only Act I, and not great sound playback. That said, this is a valuable historic musical document as well as some gorgeous music. Owning Caballe's 1974 Orange performance--which she reportedly regards as her best--I still would never do without this 1971 concert. The quality of bel canto interpretation and singing just does not happen today. The Casta Diva--which is a miracle--would make this worth having all by itself. The Norma/Adalgisa duets are stupendous! Caballe is in gorgeous form. The beautiful Elkins is fabulous, and I wish I had more of her stuff. Merolla and Morris are great additions. Very important! Elkins, Merolla and Morris are of sufficient calibre to get on the stage with La Superba without being dwarfed. So, you get a nice, well-rounded performance. You must see, as well as hear this to appreciate what happened on that stage in 1971, as well as the level of bel canto that was out there for us during that period.
Special note: Watching the chronology, the 1971 concert was probably during Caballe's pregnancy with her second child, Montserrat Marti. She once said that the unborn Montsita helped her hit the high notes. If she was referring to this, Thank you Montsita!
Second, the bonus 1979 recital: It's in color, fine sound playback, and decent camera. I agree with everything the first reviewer said. (That dad-gum music stand! Caballe, with her humor and savoir faire, reaches down, and fixes it herself.) The content of this recital is just so satisfying. If you haven't heard Caballe sing Handel and Vivaldi, you must have this. Amazing phrasing, especially in the Vivaldi. The Spanish selections are beyond description. The only thing better than hearing Caballe is hearing and seeing her. Even very ill--as she was during this concert--she is too fabulous!"