[Met Performance] CID:136710
Norma {44} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/1/1944.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 1, 1944

NORMA {44}

Norma...................Zinka Milanov
Pollione................Frederick Jagel
Adalgisa................Bruna Castagna
Oroveso.................Virgilio Lazzari
Flavio..................Alessio De Paolis
Clotilde................Thelma Votipka

Conductor...............Cesare Sodero

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:

After a lapse of seven years, Bellini's "Norma" was presented by the Metropolitan Opera Association at the Academy of Music last night. "Norma" is one of the supreme masterpieces of the lyric stage. This musical architecture has scarcely, if ever, been equaled in its grandiose melodic sweep, spaciousness and power. Here is the grand manner if ever there was. Because of the almost superhuman burden played upon the singer of the title role, the opera is rarely given. For this reason there have been but four Normas in the history of the Metropolitan - Lilli Lehmann, Rosa Ponselle, Gina Cigna and Zinka Milanov.

Mme. Milanov appeared as Norma last night and covered herself with glory. It is safe to state that singing of this type and particular school has not been heard since the departure of Rosa Ponselle. Mme. Milanov shone refulgently, whether in the Bellini recitative, where she attained the true dramatic accent, or in the cruelly sustained legato impeccably supported in a voice of superlative quality. The singer brought everything that was best in her art unstintedly to the part. Her pianissimo high tones often floated though the house to ravish the ear, while the sonority of her climax were equally desirable. The "Casta Diva," perhaps the most difficult aria ever written for the soprano voice, was superbly given. In an age not noted for particularly high vocal standards, it is indeed reassuring to know that there is a singer who can encompass Bellini's great score with such brilliant results.

It was a good evening generally; Bruna Castagna's finely sung Adalgisa was applauded in the several fine duets with the soprano, particularly the celebrated "Mira O Norma," and Frederick Jagel sang the ungrateful part of Pollione with style and power. Mr. Jagel made his first Philadelphia appearance as Pollione in 1927. Virgilio Lazzari, who was the Oroveso of the 1919 Chicago revival of Rosa Raisa, appeared in this role again last night. Mr. Lazzari's sonorous bass can still make a fine effect in the music of the Druid priest.

Bellini's masterpiece was given a vital reading by Cesare Sodero, particularly in the wonderful final scene. The audience accepted the revival as a revelation of dramatic power and superb vocalism rarely attained in the last few years.

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