Every now and then you come across the definitive performance from one of your most cherished exponents of the artform you admire the most, inspiring you to climb artistic heights of your own. This performance by Montserrat Caballe of the Cast Diva from Bellini's Norma, performed in the ancient Roman amphitheatre at Orange, France on July 20th, 1974, is one of these for me.
This is considered somewhat of a benchmark for Casta Diva's these days and no wonder why, it is effortless singing. In fact, this performance almost never took place due to the excessively strong wind conditions during the evening, but as legend has it, our Diva decided that the show must go on and that she was on the verge of the performance of her career.
Caballe's performance is matched by those of her colleagues, Jon Vickers delivering an intense account of the role of Pollione, and Veasey a sympathetic Adalgisa, her voice blending beautifully with Caballe's in the great duets.
We are fortunate that this evening was actually preserved on film and is now available on DVD. The remastering is amazing, the wind hardly being apparent aurally, but providing some lovely movement with costuming, it works really well. Thanks to youtube I was lucky to see this for the first time a while ago and it inspired my painting of the Casta Diva. It is wonderful to be able to share the inspiration behind my work with you, I hope you enjoy it.