In one of the best seasons of the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv that I can remember we watched on Saturday night the last performance of Bellini’s ‘Norma’. It also was probably the best music we got this season, as the conductor was Daniel Oren and as always when he is in charge the orchestra sounded clear and expressive, the musical phrasing was deep and emotive and the moments when the singers got lost in the noise were extremely rare if at all. The cast on the closing night was almost completely Italian, with Maria Agresta an deep and convincing Norma, Daniella Barcellona in the second (and consistent) soprano role a fragile but strong Adalgisa and Giorgio Bellugi an excellent Pollione.

Vincenzo Bellini - source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norma_%28opera%29

Unfortunately it was the staging that was left behind in the performance this time. We may have been spoiled by too many interesting directing experiments or performances mixing dance, special effects, fatuous costumes and set designs, so when these are just OK we have a feeling of unsatisfaction. Director Frederico Tiezzi brought nothing interesting or innovative to stage, and acting was very conventional and sketchy. Luckily the music saved the night and this is one of the most convincing scores in the romantic repertoire, emotional and rich in great areas, with complex phrases for the orchestra, so we felt overall fully compensated.

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/?CategoryID=381&ArticleID=942

I could find no youTube or other clip from the performance in Tel Aviv, but there are plenty of other versions of the most popular areas. I picked three versions of the beautiful ‘Casta Diva’ starring three of the greatest sopranos who sang the role of Norma ever: Maria Callas (who also holds the record with the number of stage performances in this very demanding role), Montserrat Caballe, and Angela Gheorghiu. Compare and enjoy!

(video source alphabliss)

(video source Onegin65)

(video source magghot)

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