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Jessye Norman


Schubert Club Performances:

  • October 16, 1976
  • March 29, 1992
  • October 3, 1993
  • April 30, 2013

“Grand Mansion of Sound”

The majestic Georgia-born diva Jessye Norman, whose opulent soprano was once likened to a “grand mansion of sound”, sang for the Schubert Club for the first time in 1976, quite early in her career, and for the last in 2013, near the end of it. Norman was comfortable in everything from Purcell and Mozart to Mahler and Schoenberg – at home in French, German and Italian songs and operas as well as in jazz and spirituals. One could even say that she was born to sing the music of Richard Strauss, as she did in her third Schubert Club recital, and that perhaps her supreme achievement was performing his valedictory Four Last Songs. She amply demonstrates that in this film of a 1979 concert in Geneva, aided by absolute Strauss authority Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande:

In two of her recitals in St. Paul, Norman programmed Schumann’s lied “Widmung” (Dedication). Here she sings it at the 1987 Hohenems Festival in Austria, with pianist Geoffrey Parsons:

(This is the identical performance in far better sound, but lip-synced and produced in MTV style for a 2008 “portrait” film:

Norman burnished her impeccable French credentials in Berlioz, who also featured in her third Schubert Club recital. This film of the aria “D’amour l’ardente flamme” from The Damnation of Faust comes from a commemoration of Maria Callas in 1983, with Seiji Ozawa conducting the Paris Opera Orchestra:

At the 1987 Salzburg Festival, Herbert von Karajan’s expressed wish to collaborate with Jessye Norman was fulfilled when she sang the “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde under his ultra-sensitive direction with the Vienna Philharmonic:

In her last Schubert Club appearance, as the featured artist of the St. Paul organization’s 130th-anniversary celebration in 2013, Norman offered a selection of classic American popular songs. She presented a similar program at the Boston Pops in 1984, with John Williams conducting:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Signed photo from 1992

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Ticket from Jessye Norman’s 1992 concert at Ordway Music Theatre

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Norman’s dressing room at the Ordway in April 2013

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Portrait of Norman, ca. 1976

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Program advertisement for 1976 concert

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Jessye Norman Bio from program booklet from 1976 Concert at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium

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Norman featured on a promotional poster for the 1991-92 season of the International Artist Series

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Norman smiling for the camera at the Ordway Music Theater on March 29, 1992

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Program from 1992

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1992 curtain call with pianist Phillip Moll

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Review of Norman’s 1992 performance in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Review of Norman’s 1992 performance in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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Artist Archive