Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Norma
Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 14, 1:00 P.M.
Bergonzi, Sutherland and Siepi in Norma, 1970
© Vernon L. Smith 2012
The 2011–12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation and
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Music by Vincenzo Bellini
Libretto by Felice Romani, after Alexandre Soumet's French play Norma, ou L'Infanticide
Historic Broadcast of April 4, 1970
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Oroveso bass, CESARE SIEPI
Pollione tenor, CARLO BERGONZI
Flavio tenor, ROD MacWHERTER
Norma soprano, JOAN SUTHERLAND
Adalgisa mezzo, MARILYN HORNE
Clotilde soprano, CARLOTTA ORDASSY
Conducted by RICHARD BONYNGE
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Director: Paul-Emile Deiber
Set and costume designer: Desmond Heeley
|THE SCENES ||(Ancient Gaul)||Timings |
|ACT I|| ||1:00–2:30|
|Sc. 1||Sacred Druid forest|| |
|Sc. 2||Norma's dwelling|| |
|ACT II|| ||2:45–3:48|
|Sc. 1||Norma's dwelling|| |
|Sc. 2||Druid temple|| ||Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
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This performance is also being broadcast
live on Metropolitan Opera Radio
on SiriusXM channel 74.
Horne and Sutherland as Adalgisa
© Frank Dunand 2012
Joan Sutherland (1926–2010) began her association with Bellini's Norma in 1952, when she sang Clotilde to Maria Callas's Norma at Covent Garden. A favorite at the Met since her 1961 company debut as Lucia, Sutherland was approached by Met general manager Rudolf Bing to sing Norma in the early 1960s but decided to delay her first New York appearance in the role until she felt the moment was right.
Sutherland recorded Norma for RCA/Decca (1964) and sang the operain Vancouver, London, Philadelphia and Buenos Aires before bringing her interpretation of the Druid priestess to the Met, which had last presented the opera in 1956. Sutherland's first Met Norma, on March 3, 1970, was a smash, its success due in no small part to the Australian soprano's uncanny teamwork with her friend and frequent colleague Marilyn Horne (b. 1934), who made her long-awaited Met debut as Adalgisa. Overnight, the Sutherland–Horne Norma became the hottest ticket in opera: five days after the Norma opening, the two singers appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing "Mira, o Norma." The production played to sold-out houses in New York and later in Boston, Cleveland, Memphis, Dallas, Minneapolis and Detroit during the Met's 1970 spring tour. Curiously, the Met never mounted another vehicle for the Sutherland–Horne team, although both artists enjoyed long professional associations with the house; their final joint opera appearance with the Met was on December 19, 1970, when the Met broadcast the last of their twenty-five Normas for the company.
As was the case for most of Sutherland's Met appearances after 1966, the soprano's first Norma broadcast was conducted by her husband, Richard Bonynge (b. 1930). Among the other principals under Bonynge's direction were Hungarian–American soprano Carlotta Ordassy (1921–2006), whose 761 Met performances included forty-six Clotildes; the incomparable bass Cesare Siepi (1923–2010), who sang fourteen Orovesos during his twenty-three Met seasons; and tenor Carlo Bergonzi (b. 1924), who sang eight Met Polliones in 1970, all of them opposite Sutherland and Horne.
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