I believe this is the only note-complete performance of this opera, and furthermore, the only one that is sung in all of the original keys (in almost every other recording "Casta diva" and the duets are transposed down). It is a spectacular example of bel canto. Recorded in 1964, Joan Sutherland was at her peak, exhibiting fearless, beautiful singing, thoroughly accurate in fiorature and breath control.
The third ECM album by the trio of Great British jazz singer Norma Winstone, Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German clarinetist / saxophonist Klaus Gesing was recorded in December 2012 at Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano, with Manfred Eicher as producer. Dance Without Answer pools material from diverse sources. Alongside the striking self-penned songs, there are pieces by idiosyncratic singer/songwriters Fred Neil, Nick Drake and Tom Waits, as well as tunes associated with the cinema, with contemporary pop, with a children’s television show and more.
A grande dame of British jazz, Norma Winstone may be approaching her 70th birthday but the east London-born vocalist shows no signs of fading into well-earned retirement just yet. Indeed, the former Azimuth figurehead and veteran collaborator with everyone from pianists John Taylor and Mike Westbrook to Ian Carr and Kenny Wheeler, has made some of the best received albums of her lengthy career during the last decade; not least 2008’s Distances, which garnered a Grammy nomination and a clutch of European jazz awards.
“If we weep from emotion on hearing it, it’s nothing to be ashamed of” Richard Wagner on Bellini’s most famous opera Norma, the most successful work by the last and greatest composer of bel canto. This new production of Norma, directed by Grammy Award-nominated opera, theatre and film director Kevin Newbury and starring Sondra Radvanovsky as a “powerful, elegant” Norma (New York Times) and Gregory Kunde as Pollione, is “something very special. The word ‘historic’ is used perhaps a little too often but tonight there really is no other adjective to describe the sensational performances offered to us by Sondra Radvanovsky and Gregory unde.” (operatraveller.com)
Bellini's "Norma" is a classic of the bel canto tradition, combining lavish vocal splendor with a story of great passion and nobility. The title character in "Norma" is a role with emotions ranging from haughty to desperately passionate to vengeful and defiant. Italian soprano Fiorenza Cedolins is one of the most thrilling Normas of the younger operatic generation. Along with a distinguished supporting cast, including Sonia Ganassi as Adalgisa and Vincenzo La Scola as Pollione, this psychologically staged production by Francisco Negrin, conducted by Giuliano Carella, makes the belcanto tradition vivid and exciting.