Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Vincenzo Bellini, Norma - Salzburger Festspiele, Haus für Mozart

Premiere performance 31st July

As first opera of this year's festival I attended the premiere of Norma. Having seen the Munich Norma with Radvanovsky is probably the greatest contrast to the very unique Norma in Salzburg which values the original ideas of this work. Originally Norma was sung by Giuditta Pasta, who today would probably be called a dark mezzosoprano with an extended soprano range. So Bartoli's point is casting Norma with herself, a mezzosoprano, and Adalgisa with a soprano. The concept is totally different to most other productions but works just magnificently.
Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier created a production that was transferred into the Italian fashism and is something that Norma barely is in other productions: realistic. There is nothing strange about the plot in this production. It just shows a love story that takes a terrible end. The staging by Christian Fenouillat and the costumes by Agostino Cavalca also look marvelously and are just great to watch and enjoy. The great fire during the finale was so disturbing that I had goosebumps, literally!
Giovanni Antonini conducted the orchestra la scintilla very gently and establishes a piano sound throughout the piece except of some occasions where a powerful sound is needed. The melodies and the phrasing was really exemplary and so beautifully done that it was a really pleasureable experience to listen to it. Also the Coro della radiotelevisione Svizzera gave a brilliant performance once again. They sounded very well and harmonized wonderfully.
Reinaldo Macias and Liliana Nikiteanu sang the small roles of Flavio and Clothilde. I thought it was a pity that they did not have to sing more. Especially Nikiteanu's voice is too nice for such a small role.
Michele Pertusi sang a very strong and rough Oroveso. His voice has a very dramatic timbre with a very distinct sound.
As Pollione we heard John Osborn, who has a very light heroic tenor voice. He smashed out some strong high notes this evening and showed some really beautiful phrasing.
Rebeca Olvera sang a very light and girly Adalgisa with a very beautiful timbre. Her character suited the role better but I personally think that the part is just to low from time to time for a soprano. Nevertheless she did a good job and was lovely in her role.
The primadonna of the evening was Cecilia Bartoli as Norma. Of course her voice might not be the biggest one and her high notes do not have the power of a normal soprano, but still she portrayed the role so well that it was a success through and through. She does have the dramatic requirements that the role calls for and her phrasing is just not from this world. Most of the music is played in a cultivated piano and the focus lies on the melodies. Only some dramatic outbreaks are savored with fortissimi.
As I said the concept compared to other Norma's is totally different but not less interesting. I enjoyed the performance a lot and was totally disturbed afterwards. So it gets 9 stars from me.

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