OP3178. NORMA, Live Performance, 26 Oct., 1963, w.Bonynge Cond. Vancouver Opera Ensemble; Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, John Alexander, Richard Cross, etc.; JOAN SUTHERLAND: Rare Broadcast Arias & Scenes, 1957-68, from Die Meistersinger, Alcina, Lucia, La Traviata, Rigoletto & Tosca - also featuring Jon Vickers, Nicolai Gedda, James Pease, Gabriel Bacquier, Tito Gobbi, John Lanigan, Noreen Berry, Mildred Miller, etc. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1055, w.Elaborate 50pp. Booklet w.Notes by Henry Fogel & Richard Caniell; Audio restoration by Richard Caniell. Sutherland’s role début in a much-celebrated performance taken from the house lines. Extensive texts, lush with many rare photographs of the production. - 019962434730
“This performance, 26 October 1963, certainly qualifies as an occasion, and, as amazingly resuscitated by Richard Caniell and his Immortal Performances staff from relatively unpromising source material, conveys that sense in a manner far more direct and impressive than many a recorded performance of sterling sonic qualities….since it was seemingly recorded with a single microphone, when a singer walks to the rear of the stage, or in one horizontal direction or another, there is an audible reminder of stage movement. The sound is entirely adequate to our enjoyment.”
- James Forrest, FANFARE
"The role of Norma is one of the most challenging that a soprano can confront and Sutherland was one of the most important proponents of that role in the second half of the twentieth century; (perhaps she, Callas, and Caballé were at their own level, with a host of others occupying the rungs below that). What is special about this set is that it gives us a live broadcast of Sutherland’s first public performances of that role….Listening now to Sutherland’s first attempt, one is astonished at her mastery of the role. There is nothing tentative about any aspect of her singing here. It is true, as has often been noted, that Sutherland did not display the unique kind of vocal acting that one heard from Callas. But it is in no way true that her Norma is a bland exercise in vocalism for the sake of a pretty sound. The combination of rage, hurt, tenderness, and humiliation that Norma experiences in this opera is present throughout Sutherland’s performance. Her interactions with Marilyn Horne’s brilliant Adalgisa are, in fact, alive and fully nuanced."
- Henry Fogel, Program Notes
"The Mezzo sopranos are not the leading ladies in opera, the soprano is, but American-born Marilyn Horne became as big a star as any dramatic soprano diva. Her career span the 60's, 70's and 80's, she sang in all the leading opera houses - The Met, Covent Garden, La Scala, etc., and was an artist who upheld the most consummate musicianship. Her voice was not as dark or deep as the voices of such mezzos as Giuletta Simionato, Fiorenza Cossotto, Grace Bumbry and Shirley Verrett. Hers was a voice that had a brassy, dramatic ring to it though she was clearly in her element as Rossini heroines- Neocle in SEMIRAMIDE, Rosina in BARBER OF SEVILLE, LA CENERENTOLA - and she sang Carmen and Adalgisa in NORMA opposite Joan Sutherland. She sang trouser roles like Cherubino. Not being in the spotlight was at first a struggle for Horne, but she overcame this by her dedication and sheer vocal artistry. Her voice is beautiful and BIG, a mezzo with lyric bravura and coloratura to boot. Marilyn Horne is still a very loved American singer."
- Ned Ludd
“John Alexander, an American tenor admired for his reliable artistry and vocal longevity, had a long career in New York at the New York City Opera and the Met, where he sang for 25 years. Early on, he eschewed the chance for an international career in favor of family life on Long Island. As a young man he also curbed his ambition toward dramatic roles and make himself into a lyric tenor. That decision, plus musicality and intelligence, accounted in large part for Mr. Alexander's success at an age when most singers have long since ceased to be active. He had success at both New York houses as Bacchus in Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS and at the Met as Walther in Wagner's MEISTERSINGER.
Modest, amiable and fond of playing poker, Mr. Alexander remained a singer at his church in Manhasset, L.I., 20 years after he made his breakthrough at the Met. He was born and reared in Mississippi and was trained as a singer at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, where he later taught. He moved to New York in 1951 and made his début at City Opera five years later. He made his Met début in 1961 as Ferrando in COSÌ FAN TUTTE."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Dec., 1990