Album review: Cecilia Bartoli, Bellini: Norma (Decca)

 

Recorded with period specialists Orchestra La Scintilla with the intention of replicating Bellini's original vocal and instrumental colours, this Norma is a thrilling affair, with Cecilia Bartoli afforded full space to wreak emotional havoc as the titular Gallic druid seer trapped in a web of deceit with the proconsul of the occupying Roman forces.

It's as if she takes on the role as a vocal enchantment, imbuing her delivery with pagan vitality, but still managing to make the showstopping “Casta Diva” aria almost prayer-like. Her Norma is less an aloof priestess than an earthy, earthly woman, fatally prey to her emotions. Sumi Jo's Adalgisa, by contrast, has a lighter, purer spirit. A landmark interpretation.

Download: Casta Diva; Oh! Rimembranza!; Oh! Di Qual Sei Tu Vittima; Dormono Entrambi

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