Bellini Norma Cecilia Bartoli

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  • Norma Critical Edition by Maurizio Biondi and Riccardo Minasi - Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
  • 1Sinfonia05:13
  • Act 1 Scene 1
  • 2Introduzione – Ite sul colle, o Druidi Oroveso, Druidi07:59
  • 3Svanir le voci! Pollione, Flavio02:35
  • 4Meco all'altar di Venere era Adalgisa in Roma Pollione, Flavio, Druidi03:55
  • 5Me protegge, me difende un poter maggior di loro Pollione, Flavio, Druidi02:36
  • 6Norma viene Druidi, Sacerdotesse, Guerrieri, Bardi, Eubagi, Sacrificatori03:24
  • 7Sediziose voci, voci di guerra Norma, Oroveso, Druidi, Guerrieri02:56
  • 8Casta Diva, che inargenti queste sacre antiche piante06:30
  • 9Fine al rito Norma, Oroveso, Druidi, Sacerdotesse, Guerrieri01:26
  • 10Ah! bello a me ritorna del fido amor primiero03:53
  • 11Sgombra è la sacra selva; compiuto il rito Adalgisa03:01
  • 12Deh! proteggimi, o Dio Adalgisa02:14
  • 13Eccola! va', mi lascia, ragion non odo Pollione, Adalgisa01:27
  • 14Va', crudele; al Dio spietato offri in dono il sangue mio Pollione, Adalgis08:25
  • Act 1 Scene 2
  • 15Vanne, e li cela entrambi Norma, Clotilde03:51
  • 16Adalgisa! – (Alma, costanza.) Norma, Adalgisa03:01
  • 17(Oh! rimembranza!...) Norma, Adalgisa03:33
  • 18Ah! sì, fa core, e abbracciami Norma, Adalgisa03:25
  • 19Ma di’... l’amato giovane quale fra noi si noma ... Oh non tremare02:46
  • 20Oh! di qual sei tu vittima Norma, Adalgisa, Pollione04:16
  • 21Perfido! – Or basti ... Vanne, sì mi lascia, indegno04:54
  • 22Norma, Pollione, Adalgisa08:40
  • Act 2 Scene 1
  • 23Scena - Introduzione - 'Dormono entrambi'02:12
  • 24Mi chiami, o Norma! Adalgisa, Norma03:36
  • 25Deh! con te, con te li prendi Norma, Adalgisa04:32
  • 26Mira, o Norma, a' tuoi ginocchi questi cari tuoi pargoletti Adalgisa, Norma01:46
  • 27Sì, fino all'ore estreme compagna tua m'avrai Norma, Adalgisa04:19
  • Act 2 Scene 2
  • 28Non partì Guerrieri Galli01:39
  • 29Guerrieri! a voi venirne credea foriero d'avvenir migliore Oroveso, Guerrieri02:56
  • 30Ah! del Tebro al giogo indegno fremo io pure Oroveso, Guerrieri03:47
  • Act 2 Scene 3
  • 31Ei tornerà01:32
  • 32Squilla il bronzo del Dio!01:38
  • 33Guerra, guerra!03:10
  • 34Né compi il rito, o Norma06:10
  • 35In mia man alfin tu sei..Già mi pasco ne' tuoi sguardi02:47
  • 36Dammi quel ferro05:36
  • 37Norma! deh! Norma, scolpati!02:04
  • 38Deh non volerli vittime05:01
  • Total Runtime02:22:45

Info for Bellini Norma

In collaboration with Giovanni Antonini, Riccardo Minasi and Maurizio Biondi, Cecilia Bartoli restores the sound and spirit of Norma in a landmark Decca recording based on the opera’s original sources.

Cecilia Bartoli leads a fabulous cast in Decca’s groundbreaking new recording, which presents Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma in a form that is complete with the exquisite mix of vocal and instrumental colours that Bellini intended for his ‘tragic opera’. Sumi Jo, John Osborn and Michele Pertusi respectively illuminate the roles of Adalgisa, Pollione and Oroveso. The sounds of period instruments from the composer’s time, brought to life by Orchestra La Scintilla and conductor Giovanni Antonini, underpin and blend with the timbres of a cast carefully chosen to recreate the individual vocal qualities of the opera’s roles.

Cecilia Bartoli’s Norma evokes the style and artistry of the legendary soprano Giuditta Pasta, the opera’s original heroine. The Italian superstar here continues her mission to reveal lost details of expression and emotional variety in music covered by the dark varnish of later performance traditions. Norma, often portrayed as a superhuman priestess, emerges in Bartoli’s performance as a woman of flesh and blood, torn between duty and love.

Her interpretation was hailed by the Financial Times as a “radical but convincing rethink of the part.”Fonoforum wrote of the “often moving and touching” nature of Bartoli’s Norma, following her concert performance of the work in Dortmund in August 2010, while Die Zeit described the singer’s prayer-like account of the opera’s hit aria “Casta Diva” as “great art, and also a provocation”.

Decca’s studio recording of Norma employs the latest critical edition of Bellini’s score, painstakingly restored from manuscript and early printed sources.

“Only in this way can we appreciate once more the true magic, the colour and emotion in this music,” observes Cecilia Bartoli in a short essay included as part of the album’s elegant hardback presentation. “It was my wish,” she continues, “to bring Bellini’s opera closer to the soundworld of the bel canto period.”

Cecilia Bartoli (Norma)
Sumi Jo (Adalgisa)
John Osborn (Pollione)
Michele Pertusi (Oroveso)
Liliana Nikiteanu (Clotilde)
Reinaldo Macias (Flavio)
Orchestra La Scintilla
International Chamber Vocalists
Giovanni Antonini, conductor

About the production:
“Bellini was, I believe, the last composer of opera fully to recognize that song was not just a means to a dramatic end but a magical power.” This statement by the musicologist David Kimbell describes a specific characteristic of Vincenzo Bellini’s music that constantly fascinates us, particularly in Norma, his undisputed masterpiece. However, it should not be forgotten that it is this opera above all others which not only contains “melodie lunghe lunghe lunghe” (as Verdi admiringly called them), but also has tremendous dramatic force – that is to say it is by no means merely a vehicle for bel canto (“beautiful singing”). Surrounded by a particular aura, this work can unfold its magic in many different ways, and indeed, since its premiere at La Scala in Milan in 1831 performance practice has gradually moved ever further away from its original musical form. This is the first time that Bellini’s Norma has been staged at the Salzburg Festival, and it will be based on a new critical edition of the score, approximating as far as possible to the sound of the original.

Arthur Schopenhauer admired the “truly tragic effect of the catastrophe” that emerges “so purely motivated and clearly expressed” in the finale of Norma, while Alfred Einstein opined that “anyone who comes away from a performance of Norma and is not filled to overflowing with the last pages of this act does not know what music is”. Where does this emotional turmoil that Bellini’s music triggers in us spring from? Perhaps from the fact that the composer and his librettist Felice Romani do not let their heroine descend into madness at the end, as they did to such effect in La Sonnambula, a fate that also befalls the heroines of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor. In the finale of Norma the heroine deliberately chooses to indict herself before her people as a traitress and accepts her death at the stake. In doing so she regains the love and respect of Pollione, who had wanted to leave her for the younger Adalgisa – and the hearts of the audience.

The two creators of Norma – the relationship between Vincenzo Bellini and Felice Romani can justifiably be compared to that between Mozart and Da Ponte or Strauss and Hofmannsthal – drew on various literary models. However, at decisive points they diverge from their sources. In contrast to Alexandre Soumet’s drama Norma ou L’Infanticide, on which the libretto is mainly based, the eponymous heroine of the opera is not portrayed as a second Medea. Although she intends to kill the two children she has with Pollione as an act of revenge after he abandons her, she ultimately finds herself incapable of performing the deed. Thus a realistic and touching portrait of a loving wife and mother emerges, of a woman who goes through all the highs and lows of emotion before she takes the final, superhuman step of sacrificing herself.

One of the most famous arias in the history of opera is Norma’s prayer to the moon goddess, “Casta Diva”. Like many other passages in the score, this scene can only unfold its charm if it is not misunderstood as a mere occasion for a virtuoso display of florid ornamentation. Although the expansive vocal line, the atmospherically complex interplay between protagonist, orchestra and chorus and the stylistically perfect entry of the coloratura meld suggestively into a perfect whole, the intention behind Bellini’s art is not merely to be “beautiful”; it is always subservient to expression, giving us an understanding of a figure on the stage who is often in thrall to extremes of emotion. In a concert performance of Norma given two years ago Cecilia Bartoli showed us how startlingly fresh this opera can appear when it is not (mis)interpreted on veristic principles. At the Salzburg Whitsun Festival 2013 she is taking on the challenge for the first time of breathing life into this immensely difficult role in a staged production. On the podium will be Giovanni Antonini, conductor of last year’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, with whom Cecilia Bartoli has frequently collaborated, above all in the field of Baroque music. The original orchestral sound of Norma from 1831 will be interpreted by the Orchestra La Scintilla from Zurich; Cecilia Bartoli has worked with this ensemble for many years, a collaboration that has recently included a re-evaluation of a number of works by Bellini’s contemporary Gioachino Rossini, such as Le Comte Ory or the seldom performed Otello. They will be joined by the choir of Radiotelevisione Svizzera.

For co-directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier it is not a question of illustrating the construct of a fictional mythical character. Norma is the charismatic leader of a group of people who are waging a war of resistance against a superior occupying force. In succumbing to her passion for Pollione, the leader of the occupiers, she has betrayed her own people, but by ultimately admitting her guilt and sacrificing her own life she preserves her dignity. The story of this outstanding woman is being transplanted from a fantastical Gaul into a concrete historical epoch, thus making her tragic conflict comprehensible and touchingly immediate.

For more than two decades, Cecilia Bartoli has indisputably been one of the leading artists in the field of classical music. Her new opera roles, concert programmes and recording projects – exclusively on Decca – are eagerly awaited all over the world.

The enormous success of her solo CDs such as The Vivaldi Album, Italian Arias by Gluck, The Salieri Album and Opera proibita is reflected both in extraordinary sales which have firmly established her as today’s best-selling classical artist – 8 million copies of audio and video releases occupying the international pop charts for more than 100 weeks and garnering numerous “gold” certifications – and in major awards: four Grammys® (USA), eight Echos and a Bambi (Germany), two Classical Brit Awards (UK), the Victoire de la Musique (France) as well as many other prestigious prizes.

Cecilia Bartoli has brought classical music to millions of people all over the world. But beyond this fact, she is especially gratified that the popularity of her projects has kindled discussions that always lead to comprehensive re-evaluation and rediscovery – that of composers who have been passed over and of repertoire which has been forgotten.

Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt were among the first conductors with whom Cecilia Bartoli worked. They noticed her talent at a very early stage, when she had barely completed her vocal studies with her parents in her home-town of Rome. Since then, many further renowned conductors, pianists and orchestras have been her regular partners. In recent years, her work has begun to focus on collaborations with the most significant period-instrument orchestras (Akademie für Alte Musik, Les Arts Florissants, Concentus Musicus Wien, Freiburger Barockorchester, Il Giardino Armonico, Kammerorchester Basel, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Orchestra La Scintilla). Projects with orchestras in which Cecilia Bartoli assumes the overall artistic responsibility have also become increasingly important to her and were crowned by programmes jointly developed and performed with the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Cecilia Bartoli regularly sings in the most important concert halls of Europe, North America and Japan. Her stage appearances include prestigious opera houses and festivals such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Salzburg Festival and the Zurich Opera House, where she has presented many of her operatic roles for the first time.

Recently, Cecilia Bartoli devoted her time to the early 19th century – the age of Italian Romanticism and bel canto – and in particular to the legendary singer Maria Malibran, whose 200th birthday fell on 24 March 2008. To mark the bicentenary, the artist released a new album, Maria (Edison Award, Prix Caecilia, 2008), and the DVD Maria (The Barcelona Concert/Malibran Rediscovered). The historic event was also observed in Malibran’s birthplace, Paris, when Cecilia Bartoli sang three concerts in a single day, 24 March, as the centrepiece of a “Malibran marathon” at the Salle Pleyel – collaborating with Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Adam Fischer and Myung-Whun Chung. Meanwhile the city of Paris showed her Barcelona concert on a large screen outside the Hôtel de Ville, where the singer’s mobile Malibran Museum was stationed to honour the special day. Other “Maria” events included extensive concert tours as well as opera appearances as Cenerentola, Amina (La sonnambula) and Halévy’s Clari, in a Malibran opera which had not been performed since 1829. The first complete recording of La Sonnambula with period instruments and a mezzo-soprano in the title role (with Juan Diego Florez as Elvino) rounded off this remarkable homage to Maria Malibran. It won the “Grand Prize Gold” in the opera category from the Japanese music journal Record Geijutsu. Also in 2009, readers of Le Figaro voted Cecilia Bartoli the most important classical artist of the first decade of the 21st century.

Most recently, the artist’s roles have included Rossini’s Fiorilla in Il Turco in Italia at Covent Garden and two Handel heroines, Cleopatra (in Giulio Cesare with Marc Minkowski) and Semele (with William Christie) in Zurich – the latter in a Robert Carsen production successfully released on DVD. Cecilia Bartoli’s debut as Bellini’s Norma is planned for June 2010 in Dortmund (Germany) in concert performances with the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock.

In 2009/10, Cecilia Bartoli returned to the Baroque repertoire: a musical voyage to 18th century Naples with its celebrated castrato singers is the theme of her new solo album, Sacrificium (Diapason d’Or 2009), with Il Giardino Armonico. In connection with Sacrificium’s release, she is presenting concerts of little-known castrato repertoire in the major European capitals. A further highlight of her season: concert performances of Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Salle Pleyel (Paris) in February 2010. The releases in 2010 include Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Andreas Scholl in the title role and Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie and, on DVD, Halevy’s Clari with the Orchestra La Scintilla under Adam Fischer.

Cecilia Bartoli has received many honours. In Italy she was named cavaliere, and she is an Accademico effetivo di Santa Cecilia in her native Rome. In France she was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and in London an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. Most recently she was awarded the prestigious Italian Bellini d’Oro and a Medalla de oro al merito en las bellas artes, one of the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s highest distinctions. On the occasion of the Handel Jubilee Year, Cecilia Bartoli was made an honorary member of the advisory board of the Halle Handel House Foundation. In June 2010, in Copenhagen, she will receive Denmark’s highest musical honour, the Léonie Sonning Music Prize.

Booklet for Bellini Norma

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