Sopranos: Adventure on the High C

Vincenzo Bellini's 1831 opera Norma is one of the Matterhorns of the repertory for sopranos. Many of the world's finest singers have come to grief on its melodic precipices because they lacked the bel canto technique, emotional projection, and soaringly powerful voice that the title role requires. The 19th century Soprano Lilli Lehmann said it was easier to sing three Brünnhildes than one Norma, and the great French Prima Donna Pauline Viardot was so obsessed with the difficulties of the part that the last word she spoke on her deathbed was "Norma." Maria...

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