Conductor: Ozawa, Seiji
Orchestra: French National Orchestra
Chorus: French Radio and Television Chorus
Television Director: Maysles, Albert
Television Director: Schaer, Martin
Playing Time: 00:57:04
Catalogue Number: CM9310
Featuring Jessye Norman in an exclusive rehearsal of Bizet's Carmen at Radio France
Studio with Seiji Ozawa leading the French National Orchestra.
Jessye Norman is probably the best classical crossover diva since Eileen Farrell. Spirituals, jazz, swing, blues, slow ballads--she manages all supremely well here, without any artifice. The material comes mostly from German concerts, and Norman wows the crowd the way Ella, Lena, the Duke, Thelonius Monk, and the other pop greats represented here did. She wisely avoids copying them. 'Stormy Weather', for example, is not a Lena Horne impersonation. It's Jessye Norman singing in her own sexy, sultry voice. She doesn't sound like an opera singer trying to do pop. The voices she uses and her feel for the musical idioms sound completely natural (as was the case with Farrell). The arrangements are excellent, and Carmen's 'Habanera' swing style is another highlight. The backup ensemble of piano, double bass, drums, trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet complements Norman very nicely and also does some fine work on instrumental tracks. Miss Norman's pretentious notes, which attempt to saddle the background of this music with historical significance, could have been toned down a bit.
Mark. (2010, November-December). Jessye Norman. American Record Guide, 73(6), 278. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A241618037/AONE?u=tel_a_utl&sid=AONE&xid=049089c0
Jessye Norman was one of the greatest singers who ever lived. She was a soprano, and a mezzo-soprano--both. She could also sing contralto. Her voice was one of the most beautiful, and interesting, anyone ever heard. She was a tremendously versatile singer. She sang virtually every type of song and opera role. The language, period, and style were no problem to her. Norman was born in 1945 in Augusta, Ga., where she grew up. She has now died in Manhattan. She will live on in the memories of the millions who heard her, and she will live on through recordings, too. Her lavish talents are a gift to the world at large.
Jessye Norman was one of the greatest singers who ever lived. (2019, October 28). National Review, 71(19), 12. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A602462217/AONE?u=tel_a_utl&sid=AONE&xid=81bacabc
"American soprano Jessye Norman, 74, died on September 30 at a hospital in Manhattan from multiple organ failure and septic shock. She had suffered a spinal-cord injury in 2015. Critic Tim Page once wrote, "Where Ms Norman was concerned, all of the cliches ring true: this gigantic woman (6'1") with the gigantic voice is one of a kind." Her repertoire ranged from Purcell to Poulenc; add jazz and Negro spirituals as well. She last sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002. She sang at the second inaugurations of both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2009 by Barack Obama. Many described her appearance as regal; she once said, "I do not consider my blackness a problem. I think it looks rather nice." Amen."
Obituaries. (2020, January-February). American Record Guide, 83(1), 26+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A609584479/AONE?u=tel_a_utl&sid=AONE&xid=f19e860c
(b Augusta, GA, Sept 15, 1945; d New York, Sept 30, 2019). American soprano. She studied at Howard University, the Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Michigan (with, among others, Pierre Bernac and Elizabeth Mannion). She won the Munich International Music Competition in 1968 and made her operatic début in 1969 at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, as Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), later appearing there as Countess Almaviva. Further engagements in Europe included Aïda at La Scala and Cassandra at Covent Garden, both in 1972. The following year she returned to Covent Garden as Elisabeth. For her American stage début she sang Jocasta in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Purcell’s Dido with the Opera Company of Philadelphia (1982); she appeared first at the Metropolitan Opera in 1983, once again as Cassandra. Other roles she sang include Gluck’s Alcestis, Strauss’s Ariadne, Madame Lidoine (Dialogues des Carmélites), the Woman (Erwartung), Emilia Marty (The Makropulos Affair), Bartók’s Judith, and Wagner’s Kundry and Sieglinde.
Norman sang in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (1993) in the 1990s, and she took part in numerous galas and benefit performances, including the ‘Tribute in Light’ memorial concert in New York City to honor those who died on 9/11. She continued her recital career, and expanded her repertoire to include Duke Ellington (Sacred Concerts at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, New York, 2009).
Norman had a commanding stage presence; her particular distinction lay in her ability to project drama through her voice. Her opulent and dark-hued soprano was richly vibrant in the lower and middle registers, if less free at the top; although her extraordinary vocal resources were not always perfectly controlled, her singing revealed uncommon refinement of nuance and dynamic variety. Her operatic recordings include Countess Almaviva; Haydn’s Rosina (La vera costanza) and Armida, Leonore, Euryanthe; Verdi’s Giulietta (Un giorno di regno) and Medora (Il corsaro), Carmen, Ariadne, Salome; and Offenbach’s Giuletta and Helen. Norman also appeared in jazz concerts including, in 1982, her own show A Great Day in the Morning. As her many discs reveal, she was also a penetrating interpreter of lieder and melodies, at her finest in the broader canvases of Mahler, Richard Strauss (whose Vier letzte Lieder she recorded with distinction), and Debussy.
Norman received a number of honorary doctorates (including Howard University and University of the South), the Kennedy Center Honors (1997), and the title of Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government (1984); she was made an Honorary Ambassador to the United Nations (1990). She was on the board of a number of organizations, including the New York Public Library and the Board of Trustees of Paine College in Augusta, Georgia.
Bernheimer, M., Blyth, A., & Bryan, K. (2020, June 30). Norman, Jessye. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 22 Sep. 2020, from https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-1002252060.
Brava, Jessye! The Very Best of Jessye Norman
Call Number: ML1505 .N67 1996
Publisher: New York, NY - Philips
Richard Strauss; Vier Leizte Lieder; Four Last Songs
Call Number: M1620 .S912 P5
Publisher: W. Germany - Philips
Spirituals in Concert
Call Number: CD 17309
Publisher: Hamburg, Germany - Deutsche Grammophon -
New York - Marketed by PolyGram Classics & Jazz
Berlioz; Les Nuits d'Été; Ravel; Shéhérazade
Call Number: M1617 .B4 N8 1980B
Publisher: Baarn, The Netherlands - Philips
In the Spirit: Sacred Music for Christmas
Call Number: M2065 .N67 1996
Publisher: Germany - Philips
Stravinsky; Oedipus Rex
Call Number: M1500 .S895 O26 2005
Publisher: S.l. - Philips - Distributed by Universal Music and Video Distribution, Corp.
Richard Strauss; Ariadne auf Naxos
Call Number: M1500 .S87 A7 2002
Publisher: Hamburg - Deutsche Grammophon - New York
Distributed by Universal Music & Video Distribution Corp.