Norman’s entrance, from the side of the lawn, gave cause for concern. Singing “Somewhere” from Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” Norman sounded wobbly, edgy at the top and patchy in color. She still had volcanic power over and above the miking; even so, one worried how much of her fabled velvety voice remained after largely departing her operatic career. Still, she got an instant standing ovation from the 600 or so guests who had been enjoying alfresco dinners at comfortable tables arranged on the grounds.
There were other moments of iffy pitch and dry color, especially when she sang softly, as in Gershwin’s “Love Walked In” or Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” But Norman showed she could easily both power up and soar, and also pull in, get down and put over a song with sassiness and stylish scat singing, whatever the piece.
Photo: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times