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Thread: Norma at The Washington National Opera, John F. Kennedy Center ,Washington, DC

          
   
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    Norma at The Washington National Opera, John F. Kennedy Center ,Washington, DC

    Norma by Vincenzo Bellini

    Performance of March 12, 2013 at the
    John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC

    Conductor: Daniele Rustioni
    Director: Anne Bogart

    New Production

    Cast in order of vocal appearance:

    Oroveso: Dmitry Belosselskiy
    Flavio: Mauricio Miranda
    Pollione: Rafael Davila
    Norma: Angela Meade
    Adalgisa: Dolora Zajick
    Clothilde: Julia Mintzer


    I was very surprised to see how young the conductor was - the program notes specify that Mr. Rustioni is 29 years old, who nonetheless conducted a competent, even crisp performance. The set was abstract, with a round cut-out offset in a raked stage composed of what appeared to be weathered decking; the set did not change throughout both acts. The cut-out served as both an altar and dwelling space for Norma, but seemed to correspond to the moon, which formed the backdrop through most of the opera. [The set, in fact, seemed to me to be abstract enough that, considering the decking material, could be used rather nicely in a first act of Tristan und Isoldesometime, somewhere].

    The orchestra did a nice job with the overture and the curtain opened on Oroveso and chorus. Dmitry Belosselskiy sang a powerful Oroveso, and has a magnetic stage presence. Considering the static nature of the opera, even his body language was commanding. The chorus sang well and energetically and was convincing in conveying its fury against the Roman occupiers. When Pollione (Davila) made his entrance and engaged with Flavio, my heart sank. The Washington Post had been dismissive of Davila in its review, but that didn't come close to describing how wobbly and unable to hit his notes he was in the first act, and Miranda (Flavio) was even worse.

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    Angela Meade, for the most part, sang beautifully, though she had a few rough patches. Dolora Zajick (Adalgisa), clearly is a more experienced singer and sang beautifully all night. She required some additional suspension of disbelief, though, as it was hard to imagine her as a homewrecker (especially when she scrunches up her face when she is reaching for some of her high notes). The performance included a couple of kids who portrayed Norma's children, but (and meaning no disrespect to the kids) were stiff and a real a distraction - they seemed to be constantly prompted on their next position by other cast members while on stage. I seem to recall in other performances I've seen, that Norma's children were referred to, but not physically present - which works much better.

    Fortunately, Mr. Davila warmed up and steadily improved over the course of the evening, which was a great relief, considering that he will be singing Alvaro here in next season's La forza del destino; unfortunately, he doesn't have much noticeable stage presence. In all, Norma is such a strong opera, that when it is sung competently, it shines. Last night's performance was a joy, but not particularly memorable.
    Last edited by Hoffmann; March 15th, 2013 at 02:41 AM. Reason: Add Photo

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