NEW VOD: Magic Moments of Music: Montserrat Caballé sings Norma, 1974

A documentary by Claus Wischmann

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Montserrat Caballé — Norma

Josephine Veasey — Adalgisa

Jon Vickers — Pollione

Agostino Ferrin — Oroveso

Coro del Teatro Regio di Torino

Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino

Giuseppe Patané — Conductor


Carlos Caballé — Brother of Montserrat Caballé

Sonya Yoncheva — Soprano

Olga Peretyatko — Soprano

Zubin Mehta — Conductor

Program notes

On the day of the open-air performance of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma in 1974, a violent storm blows through the Roman amphitheatre in the ancient town of Orange. Nine thousand spectators have already taken their seats, but there is disagreement backstage as to whether the performance should go ahead. The diva taking on the title role is Montserrat Caballé, an established star who has astonished audiences at the Met and La Scala, as well as in Moscow, Barcelona and London. Despite the adverse conditions, Caballé and her fellow vocalists decide to perform.

In the end, it is a triumph of vocal artistry, a bel canto masterclass that inspires to this day. The wind can clearly be heard throughout the performance as costumes, trains, scarves and robes billow up, creating a spontaneous drama all of their own. Costume designer Gioia Fiorella Mariani, the niece of Roberto Rossellini, talks about her fears that the meters-long trains would rip apart. To her surprise, she encounters the tearful singer after the acclaimed performance and learns that she is in fear for her health. As it turns out, Montserrat Caballé must undergo an operation just weeks after her appearance in Orange.

For this documentary, Caballé’s brother Carlos gives his first interview following his sister’s death in October 2018. Carlos had accompanied her throughout her life and was also in attendance for the rehearsals and performances in Orange in 1974. Soprano Sonia Yoncheva and Olga Peretyatko tell of their admiration for "La Superba," as Caballé was known to her fans. And just a few short years after this performance, Maria Callas would describe Caballé her as her true successor – high praise indeed.

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Available until

Tuesday, April 30, 2024