[Met Performance] CID:139750
Norma {52} Matinee ed. Chicago Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 05/5/1945.


Chicago, Illinois
May 5, 1945 Matinee

NORMA {52}

Norma...................Zinka Milanov
Pollione................Frederick Jagel
Adalgisa................Jennie Tourel
Oroveso.................Nicola Moscona
Flavio..................Alessio De Paolis
Clotilde................Thelma Votipka

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

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune


No one can say the Metropolitan Opera doesn't stick to its booking guns, Altho it wound up its Civic Opera house week last night with the inevitably sold out 'La Bohème," it clung to the afternoon's "Norma" despite diminishing box office returns, when practically the same cast could have done a quick change into prosperity by substituting "Aida." But what "Norma" lacked in gold to line the Met's pockets, it made up in applause to warm the managerial heart. No other opera of the brief season rivaled its reward of whistles, cheers and curtain calls.

Consider that a report, not an opinion. I found this four hour "Norma" the longest of my experience, for tho it often was beautifully sung, it was dwarfed by the lack of heroic style and sometimes took revenge by making pygmies of its singers. Bellini's stately opera of druid ceremonies, wayward priestesses, extended sacrificial speeches, and suttee in reverse, is either magnificent or interminable, but it rewarded the more restless of the faithful by achieving its chief distinction in the last act.

Brilliance in Finale

If there is a dramatic soprano in the world today capable of the full scope of the title role, impresarios would like to hear about her. Zinka Milanov is a proud priestess whose natural voice is lovely, tho light even for Aida. When she tries to force it into heroic mould it loses color and luster. But in its truer quality she uses it exquisitely, and her "Casta Diva," tho by no means the thrilling thing it can be, had a compensating delicacy of texture. In general, she scaled her performance to her resources, and had the freshness for climatic brilliance in the formidable finale.

Jennie Tourel, who shared the duets to such acclaim, is a soubrette Adalgisa who handles her small but attractive mezzo soprano with skill, and swims thru a sea of distracting gesture. Frederick Jagel was the luckless Roman who loved, not one but two out of bounds priestesses, and he bore up bravely, tho his tenor in on the soft side for so clarion a creature.

Moscona Has Noble Look

Nicola Moscona had the noble look to do the high priest justice, and he did his best singing with the men's chorus to the surprisingly gentle denunciations of the Romans, which sounds disconcertingly like the adagio from the "Moonlight" sonata.

Thelma Votipka sang what she had so you wished she had more, the chorus with vine leaves in its hair rejoiced in Bellini's curving melodies, our druidic settings were impressive, and Cesare Sodero held everything together even when the end of the famous duet, "Hear me, Norma," went sadly sour.

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