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Whether or not librettist Felice Romani had Medea in the back of his mind when he wrote Norma for Vincenzo Bellini in 1831, it is obvious that there are certain similarities in plot and mood. That inevitable comparison is heightened with this outdoor production in the huge amphitheater that is Sferisterio in Macerata Italy. Filmed in gorgeous high definition, with a minimalist set that is discretely decorated with Celtic symbols as well as Buddhist, pre-Columbian, Roman and even African signs, the mood is ancient, mythic, even Jungian. The feeling of attending a Greek tragedy as an outdoor religious observance is palpable. This is opera as ancient festival and it heightens the experience greatly. There is no denying the impact this dvd makes just with its visual elements.
The performances are slower, more monumental in scope than in an indoor opera house. Perhaps the visual distances involved make this necessary. But it has the ancillary effect of heightening the outdoor ritual aspects of the performance. We might be in a Celtic grove amongst sacred trees, stealthily watching a Druidic ceremony. This Norma looks and feels big and luckily we have two hefty voices to fill the void. Dimitra Theodossiou as Norma has a large voice that manages to fill this vast theatrical space. Daniela Barcellona as Adalgisa has another big voice. Both are well equipped to sing these two problematic roles. Norma's difficulties are well known: Beverly Sills once recommended that the singer of the part wear comfortable shoes. And Norma nearly destroyed Renata Scotto's voice.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Norma Bellini's opera is one of my favorites, but this version is to chill any Roman centurion.
The soloists are average to poor and still suffering from the horrible... Read more
This Norma is a total disaster on every front. All the singers sound terrible and the staging is an impressive fiasco. Read morePublished on May 11, 2008 by Noam Eitan
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