Bellini: Norma

Reviewed on Mon 15 Jul, 2013

Different keys used in this newly researched edition allow Norma to be sung, superbly, by Cecilia Bartoli, a mezzo, rather than by a soprano. The production is enhanced by use of a period-instrument orchestra; the wonderful timbre of a wooden transverse flute is much in evidence in the introduction to “Casta Diva”. The tempo of the duet between Norma and Adalgisa (“Oh Rimembranza!”) emphasises the throbbing of their agitated heart; indeed, the voices of Bartoli and Sumi Jo blend beautifully and are a joy to listen to throughout. Early in Act 1, the lyric tenor John Osborn as Pollione portrays the sad lover but lacks forcefulness. By the end of the same act, however, faced with both furious women, he is full of power and passion, maintaining this gloriously to the end of the opera. A fascinating booklet, including the complete libretto, and both CDs are housed within a sturdy slipcase. Here is a Norma to enjoy time and time again!
–Ruth Piatkus