Search - Vincenzo Bellini, Zinka Milanov, Frederick Jagel :: Bellini: Norma

Bellini: Norma
Vincenzo Bellini, Zinka Milanov, Frederick Jagel
Bellini: Norma
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Vincenzo Bellini, Zinka Milanov, Frederick Jagel, Alessio de Paolis, Jennie Tourel, Thelma Votipka
Title: Bellini: Norma
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Grand Tier
Release Date: 3/26/2002
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 764805419220

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CD Reviews

lesismore26 | Chicago, Illinois USA | 11/27/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"To begin with, the sound of this 1944 Metropolitan Opera broadcast is pretty good for what it is. Secondly, this performance is a much cherished historical document of how this pentultimate bel canto opera was presented in the days before both Sutherland and Callas. I will say plainly that Zinka Milanov was a valid and beautiful Norma. As the leading dramatic soprano at the Met during her time, she was entrusted with this great role at a time when there was no one able to sing it. Milanov does some very beautiful things here, and in several instances she reveals aspects of her art barely hinted at in any of her later commercial recordings made for RCA in the 1950's. The voice is frequently ravishing in tone, and most surprisingly, she injects a passion and venom into her interpretation (especially in the last act) that one would have not imagined her capable in her later years. Jennie Tourel, a great artist in her own right, contributes a youthful and vocally fluid Adalgisa, and alongside Milanov, their duets come off very well indeed. Frederick Jagel was never considered to be a great tenor, but his Pollione is solid and reliable, and he capably holds his own opposite Milanov in the final scenes of the opera. Similarly, Norman Cordon was certainly no Ezio Pinza, but his Oroveso is well sung and entirely respectable. Conductor Enzo Sodero paces a taut and somewhat rigid performance, yet he allows his singers sufficient latitude to do their jobs. His is a much less expansive reading of this score than we have become used to in our time. For those interested in Zinka Milanov, this performance is an absolute must. But it is also worthwhile for anyone who wishes to know how this opera was performed in the days before the bel-canto revival spearheaded by Callas, Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballe'. Highly recommended."
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 03/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great way to hear "Norma" as it sounded in the pre-Callas days. Milanov, of course, was a great dramatic soprano whose career was long and legendary, and her assumption of Norma on this 1944 broadcast shows why she was held in such high esteem. Moreover, there are some critics who felt that this performance was Milanov's best Met broadcast of the first part of her Metropolitan Opera career. She does simplify the role somewhat ------- the cabaletta after "Casta Diva" is transposed a whole step down, and she does not linger long on any of the top C's. That aside, she sings magnificently, with richness, authority, and great vocal beauty, especially in those moments where she floats those famous piano tones. Interestingly enough, Milanov summons a tremendous amount of fury and excitement in the final act ------ something that one would not expect by listening to her later recordings. She is ideally partnered by the Adalgiza of Jennie Tourel, whose voice blends beautifully with Milanov in the duets. The male leads do not reach this level. Jagel is a workaday Pollione and Cordon a merely adequate Druid priest. The conductor, certainly no podium giant, merely "conducts". But no matter. This is the only audio document of Milanov's Norma, and it is well worth having. By the way, Milanov tried Norma again during the 1953-1954 season, and she was, by all written accounts, not at all successful. But here, ten years earlier, in perfectly listenable (though certainly 1940's broadcast quality) sound, one can hear what was possibly one of this soprano's most noble musical statements."
A Great Norma
Queen Margo | Arlington | 12/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Zinka Milanov's voice is at her prime here and she is in good company although I prefer Corelli's Pollione. The live sound is somewhat "hissy," but as the other reviewer says, you get used to it. One must remember that Milanov was a dramatic soprano and not a colloratura, but she is brilliant here in every way. A must for Milanov collectors.

By the way, I also have a recording of her 1954 live fromt he Met Norma with Blanche Thebom which is absolutely superb and in better sound. The poor reviews Milanov received in 1954 were probably because Callas reigned supreme in the early 1950s and no critic would praise a Verdian war horse in the role of Norma at that time. However, much that I respect and love all the recordings of the Callas Norma, I find myself listening to Milanov much more often. It is pure joy to hear her voice in all the tender passages and there is plenty of drama in the scenes with Pollione."