St. Louis Public Radio will carry the Met Opera's archival broadcast of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma starring Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne from April 4, 1970 on their HD channel, KWMU-3 beginning at 12 noon.
Harold C. Schonberg reviewed a performance of Norma in the March 5, 1970, edition of the New York Times saying
There was screaming Tuesday night at the Metropolitan Opera and for once it did not come from the stage. The eagerly awaited debut of Marilyn Horne in Bellini's Norma, singing opposite Joan Sutherland, in a new production, was the stimulus.
After each aria and ensemble of those two thoroughbreds, Sutherland and Horne, the house erupted. Miss Horne, at the end of the third act (the two acts of Norma have been divided into four), received standing ovation. People just stood, applauding and yelling. Miss Sutherland got the same treatment after the fourth act.
Norma was last done at the Metropolitan with Maria Callas, in the 1956-57 season. Whatever the virtues of La Callas and of course they were many, she did not begin to sing the role as well as Miss Sutherland did last night. And this is despite the well-known category of Sutherland liabilities -- her sloppy diction ("Costa diva" instead of "Casta," and so on), her occasional lapses from pitch, her habit of sliding into notess, her rather sluggish rhythm.
I know it all, and I couldn't care less. Miss Sutherland has the most glowing, the richest and most sensuous-sounding voice, of any soprano before the public, and she is one of the most exciting technicians.
Miss Horne has many of Miss Sutherland's attributes with several pluses and one minus. Her big, securely produced voice does not have the sensuous sheen of Sutherland's. But she is a better musician, has better diction, sings with better rhythm and clearer shape to the phrase, and has a wider compass. Miss Sutherland is not happy with low notes. Miss Horne, a mezzo-soprano, has the low notes together with the top of a dramatic soprano.
During the intermission, Marilyn Horne and conductor Richard Bonynge will
discuss Joan Sutherland and their performance of Norma.
In the April 12, 1970, edition of the New York Times, Judy Klemesrud called the Norma "the big hit of the season." Klemesrud also wrote:
The first question is obvious. How did the world's leading prima donna, whose rich and glowing voice shoots arrows of spun gold all the way to the top balcony, react to all the praise and attention heaped upon Horne?
Miss Sutherland chuckles, not nervously but good-naturedly. Before she answers, she glances across the living room at her husband, Richard ("Ricky") Bonynge, a dark-eyed man with salt-and-pepper hair who is four years her junior (she's 43), who conducts all her operas, and who looks like a French matinee idol. He smiles and gently prods her, "Tell her, dear."
"Well," the Australian soprano says, "it was, after all, her debut at the Met, and she is an American artist, and frankly deserves no end of praise. Jackie [Miss Horne's nickname -- her brother wanted a baby brother] is a very fine singer, especially in this type of role. And, dear, it's not like I've never shared the spotlight before."
Bonynge cuts into the conversation. "The idea is not to have one great singer surrounded by a bunch of nitwits," he says. "When the others are good, too, that's when you get something happening in opera."