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  • Your Reaction: What did you think of Bellini's Norma in cinemas?

Your Reaction: What did you think of Bellini's Norma in cinemas?

Your thoughts on the live cinema relay of Àlex Ollé's new Royal Opera production.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

26 September 2016 at 10.52pm | 98 Comments

https://twitter.com/payne_jacqui/status/780504035895959552

https://twitter.com/fionamuzz/status/780523637430452224

What did you think of Norma live in cinemas?
Add your review below.

If you experienced technical issues during this live cinema relay, please email details to cinema@roh.org.uk

The next live cinema relay of the 2016/17 Season is The Royal Opera's Così fan tutte on 17 October 2016. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

26 September 2016 at 10.52pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Antonio Pappano, by Àlex Ollé, Joseph Calleja, Norma, Royal Opera, Sonia Ganassi, Sonya Yoncheva

This article has 98 comments

  1. Anneke stolk responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:12pm Reply

    It was so wonderfull!!! I am so glad that i have seen it. My head is full of music. I have not enough words to describe it. THANKS

  2. Gaynor responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:21pm Reply

    Superb production - we can't stop talking about our thoroughly enjoyable evening. The singing was beautiful and the set amazing. What a tour de force from Yoncheva. Some irritants when taking the opera out of its period - mistletoe, sacred wood, pagan references then women priests in catholic rites etc. The watership down sequence was really chilling - very dramatic.

  3. Sue King responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:22pm Reply

    Yoncheva was sublime. Effortless singing and wonderful acting. Ganassi sang well, but was - sadly - too old for this role. I tried hard to believe her as a young girlish priestess, but could not.

    The stage set design and costume was impressive - but why set a Celtic religion as it it is Roman Catholicism? No part of ritualistic Gaul was full on RC at this time. Very weird! Distracting. Almost spoilt this opera for me.

    The chorus were fab! Never forget the importance of the chorus - the unsung soloist in an opera!

    And - I left the cinema in tears at the beauty of Yoncheva's heart-wrenching singing and acting in the final scene. She made it all worthwhile. Surely the best ever Norma?

  4. Agnes Boekhout responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:25pm Reply

    First time I saw a live opera in the cinema.
    Loved it!! Felt like applauding as if I was in the Royal Opera House myself!

  5. Valerie Shepherd responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:28pm Reply

    It was utter bliss from beginning to end. Yoncheva is a perfect Norma, both moving
    and frightening - she acts so convincingly and what a voice!. It can move mountains. Might we see it all again, please?!

  6. Jane Thorp responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:29pm Reply

    Mystified as to why the critics were so puzzled by the production.. As someone who stopped watching an ancient recording of Joan Sutherland in Sydney before I died of boredom,I was glad of the updating. The set was impressive and I was relieved that the women could wear trousers and didn't have to float around in ridiculous druid robes.Calleja did not really inhabit his role until the final scene but Yoncheva WAS Norma. I am glad to have had the chance to see and hear her.

  7. Ashley Armstrong responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:32pm Reply

    Watching Norma live from Covent Garden at the Showcase in High Cross, Leicester. Quite magnificent! I wish I could have gone to see it live in person. Sonya Yoncheva in the title role is astonishing, and despite the anachronisms, I'm persuaded by the staging too.

  8. Sigrid Kleyenstüber responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:38pm Reply

    Overwhelming production, extraordinary, convincing performance, fantastic singers and orchestra!!

  9. Deirdre O'Driscoll responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:41pm Reply

    A wonderful production. Thoroughly enjoyed the evening here in Limerick. Looking to Cosi van Tutti next month.

  10. Jane scott responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:43pm Reply

    Sublime music, wonderful conducting, Yoncheva was breathtaking, well supported by Calleja. But why oh why try and update, the Druid priestess, with a lot of confused imagery that veered from Christianity, to quasi Mussolini/ KKK. An unnecessary distraction from a musically fabulous evening

  11. wonderful singing, a mess of a production. were we in gaullist france, francois spain? had women finally taken over the catholic church? was there a special offer on crucifixes?

  12. Sheila blackman responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:48pm Reply

    What beautiful singing
    So uplifting
    Yonchevka so wonderful as Norma
    So lucky to see these screenings please keep them coming
    Melton Mowbray leicestershire

  13. john dickinson responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:50pm Reply

    She ain't Maria Callas--yet! But give her a couple of years------!

  14. Julia López de Sagredo responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:50pm Reply

    La puesta en escena horrible; sin conexión alguna con la trama ni la letra ; llena de "topicazos" en un 'pastiche' de empalados, procesiones, botafumeiro,... donde no sale el Rocío por ser demasiado festivo... El escenario de IKEA del segundo acto, igualmente fuera de lugar. Falta absoluta de creatividad, de conocimiento y de respeto a los creyentes, especialmente doloroso para mi el bosque con Jesús crucificado. Lástima que no podamos disfrutar de una ópera tan extraordinariamente interpretada, sin tener que aguantar estos desvaríos escénicos, que nada aportan y mucho confunden y hacen daño.

  15. Lyn Jacomb responded on 26 September 2016 at 11:52pm Reply

    Loved the voice and stage presence of Sonya Yoncheva but bad casting to have a 50 year old woman play the young innocent Adalgisa. The audience in Bologna audibly laughed when Norma calls her a giovanetta! Thought Joseph Calleja lacked emotion. They were all acted and sung off the stage by Sonya Yoncheva - stunning performance.

    • Lisa responded on 30 September 2016 at 11:29pm

      Yoncheva is, I believe, 35. The role is so incredibly demanding that she's on the young side. Caballe was in her 40s and thrice the size of Yoncheva when she sang her definitive Normas in Orange and Aix, and no one complained. Sometimes it really is all about the voice, and Norma is one such opera.

    • Lisa responded on 30 September 2016 at 11:35pm

      And Ganassi may be older, but opera is first staged for the live experience where the singing comes first as the performers are removed from the audience. I much rather have an Adalgisa who can sing the role than a girl who looks convincing. Marilyn Horne, anyone?

  16. William Swales responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:10am Reply

    This ‘must see’ treatment of Bellini’s masterwork is both timely and speaks VOLUMES about intolerance.

    Setting the action against a contemporary backdrop of a brutal and merciless civil war – with its focus on the examination of religion as a despotic force of power, corruption, and destruction that uses ‘pious fraud’ and delusion to impose fear so as to attain control of people - is a brave ‘masterstroke’ by Àlex Ollé to denounce sexism; racism; bigotry; and intolerance - intolerance that is prevalent everywhere - and so relevant to today’s situation in America, Europe, and the Middle-East.

    ASIDE: Before you go to see the ‘Cinema Live’ encore of this magnificent opera this coming Sunday (2nd of October) – two films to watch are ‘Intolerance’ – a masterwork of the ‘silent film’ era by D W Griffiths; and Powell and Pressburger’s classic ‘must see’ film ‘Black Narcissus’ (now fully restored in 4K resolution by Martin Scorsese) - featuring Deborah Kerr as a nun assigned to a missionary hospital in Nepal - who’s religious conviction is ripped apart when she witnesses avoidable harrowing catastrophes through the results of gross incompetence and a deluded belief in ‘faith healing’. Or failing that – read ‘The Age of Reason’ written by Thomas Paine in 1794 AD, or read ‘God: The failed hypothesis’ published by the physicist Victor Stenger in 2008 – and come away enlightened.

    Just like the two sides of women – depicted as Odette and Odelle in the ballet ‘Swan Lake’ – a ballet – not about swans – but of the ideologies of good versus evil – this wonderful, deeply moving, and thought-provoking opera uses depictions of ‘the seven deadly sins’ to examine ‘the human condition’; the frailty of life; the external or self-imposed influences that can mess it all up to highlight the actions one should take to bravely put one’s ‘mistakes’ behind us and create opportunities to get oneself out of a rut and live life to the full.

    Here, through formidable, deeply moving, emotive performances from Sonya Yoncheva, Joseph Calleya, and Sonia Ganassi we see - emotionally experience - and ‘feel’ the struggle to overcome religious supremacy and the ‘moral poison’ religion creates – beautifully depicted in Norma’s moving ‘Hymn to the chaste moon’ (‘Casta Diva’ – ‘Chaste Goddess’).

    As Norma (Latin for ‘To rule’) sings her hymn to the moon we feel her loneliness; frustration; and desolation as she expresses her belief in the metaphysical world and the ‘hereafter’; the need for chivalry and justice achieved through ‘the rule of law’ (Temper the audacious zeal and spread on earth the same peace that make you make reign in heaven so that the sacred forest should be cleansed of the profane); and we see the growth of individual self-awareness (He'll fall - I can punish him - but my heart doesn't know to punish) – all held together by the redemptive power of love and devotion (Ah! Come back to me beautiful; to your loyal first love; and against the whole world I shall protect you).

    But be warned - the narrative turns VERY dark when Norma is thrust into a vile despicable ‘underworld’ of satanic evil and ‘mob rule’ that will wrench every emotion from within you as we watch the moral and ethical dilemma unfold – beginning with the ‘Ku clux clan’ robes and the ‘double cross’ religious iconography (the ‘double cross’ was also used as an emblem by Chaplin in ‘The great dictator’) and emphasised in Scene one of Act two where we see Norma’s torment as she considers murdering her children – with the game of ‘Monopoly’ spelling out ‘monopolisation and control’ and the film ‘Watership Down’ poignantly displayed on the TV to make the point that the human invention of ‘gods’ are set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolise power and profit.

    As to Antonio Pappano’s amazing masterful conducting and the stunning control of the orchestra and chorus as he and they responded to the delicate subtleties of each singers soulful expression of emotion, embellishments, and improvisation with decisive dynamics and brilliant harmonious articulation - it was sublime. He has seriously ‘raised the bar’ and blown all other versions clean out of the water.

    This is reminiscent of when Rudolph Nureyev left the stage in the middle of ‘Swan Lake’; seized the baton from the conductor; and began conducting the orchestra precisely to the flowing movements of the prima ballerina instead of to the beat of the metronome. Nureyev’s ‘fusion’ of dancer and orchestra was a ‘gamechanger’ that changed the expression of ballet forever.

    In all presented art – be it a painting; a sculpture; a photograph; a play; a book; a film; a musical; an opera; or a ballet, there are SIX aspects to consider – these being:

    The ‘plot’ - what is ‘allegedly’ taking place.
    The story that drives the plot – the glue that holds everything together
    The ‘sub-plot’ – what is a book, play, opera, ballet, or film really saying?
    The ‘allegories’ - what do the principal characters; their names; and their actions really represent?
    The ‘semiology’ - what do the objects and iconography (idols, symbols, flowers, flags, furniture, artefacts, objet d'art, toys, attire, etc.) in a play, book, ballet, or opera actually represent?

    and

    the ‘sub-text’ – the ‘subliminal message’ that a director wishes you to take away at the conclusion of the performance so as to form opinion and broaden ones mind.

    ‘Inner Realism’ – devised and developed by Shakespeare has been used as a sub-text in plays, books, films; opera and ballet for centuries to make strong points and deliver lessons in life through emotional turmoil so that we may learn from the mistakes of others and come away with a more positive perspective on life and the people with whom we share our lives by understanding the underlying constructs that bring comprehension to the plot; story; sub-texts; characters; allegories; and the semiology that drives every opera forward - which brings forth deeper clarity, meaning, and depth.

    To illustrate: in the tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ we meet the sinister Catholic Friar ‘Friar Laurence’ – giving Juliet a sleeping draught that will comatose her so as to fool her Catholic family and her Protestant husband Romeo into believing she has passed away; not informing Romeo of the sleeping draught; and privately giving Romeo POISON in case the elopement goes ‘pear-shaped’ and the Capulets seek to kill him – fully expecting that Romeo would discover the ‘corpse’ of Juliet and would use the poison to commit suicide in his moment of grief – the idea being that Romeo would be ‘done away with’ and a concocted church ‘miracle’ would ‘resurrect’ Juliet from death like ‘the raising of Lazarus’ – but it all goes horribly wrong.

    In the comedy ‘A Winters Tale’ we see how stupid misunderstandings and belief in ‘gossip’ can lead to torment and turmoil – turmoil that tears a noble family apart for no reason whatsoever - brought about through pig-headedness, hatred, spite, and jealousy that brings on decades of bitterness and loneliness. But thankfully it all gets happily resolved in the end – so ‘All’s well that ends well’.

    So what is Norma’s ‘inner realism’? As the all-powerful highly respected High Priestess of her oppressed people - with so many options open to her – why did she do what she did? What was Norma hoping to achieve? And did she achieve it?

    More to the point – given the moral dilemma - what would YOU do in her situation dear reader?

    Norma’s decision is not to seek revenge on Pollione. Through contemplation to kill her children (‘Dormono entrambi’ – ‘They are both asleep’ - they will not see
    the hand which strikes them. No remorse - oh my heart) Norma realises that she is far above the bitter selfishness that always invariably brings about self-harm and self-destruction that would not serve any useful purpose (Ah no! They are my children - mine! Oh - Clotilde! Come - quickly!) – choosing instead alleged ‘higher ideals’ where the duty of one’s country and its people must be higher than the vain ‘sense of duty’ to oneself.

    But was Norma right to do what she did? As an imperious, highly respected High Priestess with everything in her favour, Norma had the perfect opportunity to put her private past behind her; quell the angry mob baying for blood-lust; human sacrifice; and ‘burnt offerings’; and seize full control - and in so doing - spell out a ‘better way’ forward for ‘everyone’ – but she chose not to do so.

    Why? Did Norma’s wrath get the better of her? Did she suffer a moment of spiritual weakness? Did she lack wisdom, intellect, and vision? Did she lack strength, courage, and fortitude? Did she see the flaws in her beliefs – as Queen Christina did in Lutheranism and Catholicism - which resulted in her instigating ‘The Treaty of Westphalia’ that ended the brutal ‘Thirty years war’? Or was Norma unable to rid herself of regret - and the dreadful sorrow regret imposes - because she was totally blinded and deluded by her religious convictions?

    And what of Adalgisa? Having also been tempted by ‘forbidden fruit’ she is no longer a ‘Vestal Virgin’ – so did Adalgisa confide what she did that put the cat amongst the pigeons and brought on Norma’s wrath, out of remorse and self-pity; out of respect for Norma; out of compassion for Norma; out of spite; out of ignorance; or out of fear?

    Then we have the silver-tongued philandering ‘devil-may-care’ womanising ‘taker’ that is Pollione – always seizing opportunities to better his own ends at the expense of others – even his children.

    Bellini’s music beautifully illustrates his contempt for Pollione by deliberately failing to provide lyrical passages that ‘stretch’ the tenor and allow him to soar and shine – other than very short bursts of life and light through the ‘discussions’ (duets) which presents every tenor willing to take on the role with a huge challenge to inject any real passion into the character.

    The suppressed score really sorts the men from the boys so only brave and gifted tenors have the capability and capacity to bring expression into this formidable, deeply dark role - so a big ‘hats off’ to Joseph Calleya for his brilliant, masterful, gripping performance. STUNNING!

    And so on to the sub-text.

    Everyone on this Earth should have a little place that they can say “This is my home!” – a place where they are always welcome - a place that they can call their own.

    For over 800 years – beginning with the ‘The third Crusade’ in 1187 AD – Britain has taken a powerful stance and ‘punched above its weight’ in the world against despots and oppressors (which set in motion the signing of the ‘Magna Carta’ – the ‘Great Charta’ of human rights - in 1215 AD).

    As a tolerant secular nation, globally respected for our sense of ‘fair play’, we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish to suppress King Philippe and his despicable barbaric ‘Spanish Inquisition’; we have fought with the Dutch against the French and the Spanish to quash Louis the XIV ‘Divine right of kings’ as he attempted to impose his expansionist interests to dominate Europe; we have fought with the Germans against the French to suppress ‘Emperor’ Napoleon’s ‘Conquest of Europe’ – following the good hiding Nelson gave him over Egypt.

    We have fought with the French and the Dutch against the Germans and Italians to crush Hitler and Mussolini; and we have influenced the UN to suppress Franco’s barbaric cruelty to the Spanish people (the French graciously homing the Spanish refugees who fled the terror) - which led to ‘The Spanish Miracle’ and the eventual reinstating of their monarch; as well as diplomatically arbitrating - and where necessary – forcefully interceding - to destroy other despots and their cloying destructive ‘rule-by-fear’ regimes - regimes that suppress women; keep people entrenched in abject poverty, famine, and disease; and purposely prevent ‘human advancement’ through superstition, ignorance, and bigotry so as to deliberately hold back ‘enlightenment’ – respect for the sublime, free scientific enquiry, and the exercise of ‘reason’ (determining ‘how and why’) - the potent weapons that lead to the total destruction and annihilation of dogma, delusion, and fear - the enablers of totalitarian regimes.

    We all possess an ‘inner reality’ that most people suppress or ignore because of manipulation from others and a willingness to conform to society like a sheep. Here we learn through tragedy and error that we should seize life by being autonomous and taking risks; and refuse to be manipulated by others or waste time on trivia that does not get us anywhere and usually makes someone else rich - whilst accepting responsibility for the consequences of our decisions and fix things when they go pear-shaped if we are to bring excitement, enlightenment, and meaning to our short time on the planet.

    From the four big blunders Norma makes that lead to the tragic consequences, we learn that we must cast off our mantle of prejudice and delusion – and not become like the gifted impresario ballerina ‘Vicki Page’ (exquisitely played by Moira Shearer) in ‘The Red Shoes’ - living a deluded life pecking with chickens - sleeping in separate beds in a boring loveless marriage instead of soaring with eagles displaying her talent on the world stage - and get to the end of your life saying ‘I wish I had done ‘that’ instead!’

    ASIDE: ‘The red shoes’ has been fully restored in 4K resolution by Martin Scorsese with funding from the BFI. Be blown away by Jack Cardiff’s stunning cinematography (using the palette of Goya) and be mesmerised by the dazzling performances from Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook – as you tremble in awe in the closing moments of ‘The Red Shoes’ as Leonide Massine offers up a pair of blood-red pointe shoes and asks the onlooker ‘Dare YOU wear the red shoes?’ It is available on BluRay and DVD – and the ROH shop stocks it – how good is that!

    As we eagerly look forward to the release of this magnificent majestic powerful opera on BluRay, a note for your diaries. The ROH are transmitting the ‘Cinema live’ ‘encore’ on Sunday the 2nd of October 2016 – ‘curtain up’ at 2PM GMT – which gives everyone a golden opportunity to see it and experience its poignancy and potent relevance once again.

    Happy viewing.

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:04pm

      Good comment William. I enjoyed reading it.

    • Lablady responded on 30 September 2016 at 7:51am

      Thanks for this William; very interesting and detailed, most of which I hadn't even considered. It must have taken a considerable time to compose. Thank you. And to everyone: if you haven't seen this, then the Encore screening on Sunday is a must. Possibly the best thing I have seen at the ROH in five years. I can't stop thinking about it, and the music is still in my head. Going again for the final performance on Saturday 8th, and excited to see it for the third time! Taking my Dad.

  17. Very much enjoyed Norma in Amsterdam Filmhallen but experienced quite a bit of technical problems which was such a pity. Being totally drawn into a beautiful scene and then the screen would freeze for a few seconds... Especially the second had a lot of interruptions like this. But...beautiful singing, and my tears at the end-scene. Sonya Yoncheva was sublime! Her voice mixed beautifully with the voice of Sonia Ganassi.
    I would love to see it again without the interruptions!

    • Noelia Moreno responded on 29 September 2016 at 12:52pm

      Dear Cat,

      Thank you vey much for your comments. We're sorry you had disruptions during the screening and we have followed up with the venue. If you experience any more technical issues please contact cinema@roh.org.uk.

      Best wishes,
      Noelia
      ROH Cinema

  18. Carmelina Fazzone responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:28am Reply

    Netrebko did us all a favour canx appearances with the ROH with two different productions, Faust and Norma.

    You made way for Yoncheva and we thank you for that.

    WOW...Yoncheva was absolutely amazing, what a voice and what an actor, you were just brilliant.

    Thank You.
    C Fazzone.

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:26pm

      Agreed, I suspect we were all better off for what happened, judging by what I saw and heard at the cinema in Leamington Spa last night

    • Dr RICHARD responded on 5 October 2016 at 5:32pm

      Amen to that.
      Cannot wait for Sonya to sing again.

  19. PatrickK responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:52am Reply

    The whole production was stunning. Sonya Yoncheva's singing so beautiful it hurt.

  20. Carlos Garcia responded on 27 September 2016 at 2:41am Reply

    Wonderful staging, fantastic voices

    Carlos, from Madrid ( Spain )

  21. Annie Brindle responded on 27 September 2016 at 7:56am Reply

    Absolutely wonderful experience at North Shields. Joseph and Sonya incredibly beautiful singing.

  22. Richard Snell responded on 27 September 2016 at 7:59am Reply

    Great music, Some great singing but overall your would not rate this highly. Norma and Pollione superb. Orovesco and Flavio unimpressive. Costumes and set not memorable.

  23. My friend and I thought the music and the singing were quite beautiful. The Live Transmission service is wonderful, enabling people from all around the planet to enjoy these superb classics. Thank you so much for transmitting your valuable productions.
    As for the staging, we disliked the modern dress which is so totally at odds with both ancient times and Bellini's times - a hideous culture clash. I know you're short of funds but I would far rather see pared-down costumes in tune with the era of the opera than modern dress which does not harmonise with the philosophy of the plot. It was also no help in appreciating to which 'side' the singers belonged (Celts or Romans?) as they were all dressed similarly.
    We also felt it was a great misjudgement to have a child's bicycle riding round during the singing; and WORST OF ALL a moving television screen, which was really unfair competition with the singers - impossible not to keep taking a peep to see what was happening in 'Watership Down'(?)!!
    As for the plethora of crucifixions, the background to the action: I personally wasn't sure whether they represented what the Roman army was doing to the local population or was it illustrating how OTT the Celtic/Catholic religion was?!!
    Please reconsider your damaging modern aberration of producing in modern dress operas with plots based in former centuries. SC

    • DENISE ROBERTSON responded on 29 September 2016 at 4:36pm

      I agree 100% with your comments, especially the TV & bicycle debacle. Why do producers & directors want to update classical material? It ruins the whole performance. It should be performed as it was written & intended; I'm sure Bellini would be outraged to see the liberties taken with his work. Write something new or stick to the original. It was also risable to cast Sonia Ganassi as the much younger, Adalgisa. Sonya Yoncheva, however, saved the night. She was magnificent

  24. PS: The opera 'Norma' was wonderfully presented and compared, the presenter had a most engaging and likeable personality, and helped bring the whole production to life. (sorry, didn't get her name).
    SC

  25. Lablady responded on 27 September 2016 at 8:46am Reply

    Having already seen this live at ROH last week, (and been totally blown away by it) I was unsure how much I would enjoy the cinema streaming. I needn't have worried, it added a whole new dimension and was an opportunity to witness the superb acting skills of the leads. Well done Everyman Cinema in REIGATE: the sound quality was superb, the sofa seating so comfortable, and what a treat not to have to travel far afterwards. Highly recommend Cinema live streaming experience. Thanks to all who make it possible.

  26. Jonno responded on 27 September 2016 at 8:55am Reply

    A confused and confusing production that made little sense, especially when the stage action bore no relation to the libretto. Well sung though.

  27. MARK ROCHESTER responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:49am Reply

    Music and singers really impressive their efforts for me were severely undermined Production at best superficially impressive but so terribly distracting from the libretto, are we not meant to read the surtitles? The Catholic iconography far too specific, whatever happened to subtlety and shading in design. Im afraid I really struggled , much preferred the reviled Lucia of last year.Nearly left at interval

  28. Julian Lush responded on 27 September 2016 at 10:33am Reply

    Marvelous production, superb performers. Cinema relay is wonderful and spreads the ability to attend productions.

    I was puzzled as to why the Druids were adorned in Jeruslame crosses..

  29. Chris responded on 27 September 2016 at 10:44am Reply

    Our first time

  30. Passionate performances by all. Sonya superb. Stage sets brilliant and pregnant with symbolism.

  31. Chris responded on 27 September 2016 at 10:53am Reply

    Our first time viewing Norma. Wonderful music and singing. Spoiled by Bellini's clumsy plot. Plus confusing production values. Act 1 was set in a medieval forest. Act 2 opened in a branch of Ikea. We were then whisked through the Western front and back into the forest. Overall, a flawed experience.

  32. Willem responded on 27 September 2016 at 10:58am Reply

    For all Brava and Bravo form the Netherlands

  33. Nick-Bath responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:10am Reply

    Agree that the singing and orchestration were wonderful. Our first experience of live relay. Unfortunately the sound quality and volume in the first half in Little Theatre in Bath was very poor. The second half was totally different and more like a live performance. I'd assumed this was a normal situation until it improved.
    Also agree about the modern approach. So often one feels this is done arbitrarily with a view to shocking the audience rather than improving the spectacle. No more space hoppers or on stage televisions please!

    • Ken Wheatley responded on 27 September 2016 at 10:29pm

      I was astonished by Yoncheva's performance, her Norma vulnerable but chilling. I'd not want to cross her, that's for sure.
      I wasn't certain of the era this production was staged in to start with, assuming it to be mid-20th century, so it was quite a shock to see the modern room at the beginning of the second act. But I disagree with many of the comments about the cartoon and the space hopper. Some now see the film of Watership Down as being too violent and frightening for modern children, and it's certainly dark. Surely it was representative of the dangerous, adult currents flowing around the innocent children? And the spacehopper was used when Norma and Adalgisa were pledging eternal friendship after a violent argument. The carefree child bouncing around the stage was, I thought, a movingly appropriate background for the short-lived joy of the two priestesses.
      Anyway, I merely enjoyed the staging, but the playing and singing astounded me. An emotionally draining evening that I'll never forget.

    • Noelia Moreno responded on 29 September 2016 at 5:44pm

      Dear Nick,

      Thank you for contacting us. We're happy to know you enjoyed Norma but sorry to hear you experienced audio issues in the first half. We have forwarded your comments to the venue and hope they will get resolved for future screenings.

      Best wishes,

      Noelia
      ROH Cinema

  34. Reginald Tripp responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:42am Reply

    Despite what the professional critics have said I thought it was wonderful and moving and Sonya Yoncheva terrific although she will undoubtedly get even better as she grows into the role and gets more experience. I thought the whole setting and her singing of "Casta Diva" was totally sublime and almost overwhelming. Some of her hight notes however will improve with age. The only puzzling scene was the beginning of Act 2. Why was it so totally modern and out of keeping with the rest of the production?
    The chorus, orchestra and othe roles were also superb. Wonderful. I want to see it again.

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:09pm

      I agree. The furniture reminded me of the house in that notorious scene in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
      As for 'Watership Down' on the TV screen, I tuned out for a full five minutes trying to work out its meaning. Surely it was not an arbitrary choice? Or maybe this designer does not work with the same obsessive attention to detail as did Kubrick?

  35. Stevie responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:42am Reply

    I had always understood that this opera was a platform for the leading Soprano. And so it proved to be. Yoncheva delivered a masterly performance in her first attempt at this massive role. All else was merely peripheral to her performance. She is no longer a stand in performer for other stars, but is now the leading light on the Operatic scene.

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:29pm

      I agree totally.
      But to see a sensational tenor in this opera, take a look at Mario Del Monaco on YouTube.

  36. Laura Gregory responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:52am Reply

    Having seen the ENO version of Norma last year I was apprehensive about seeing Norma again but my friend convinced me we needed to go. We were at the Odeon in Leciester.
    The set was amazing, the singers were fabulous and I was in teast most of the second half.
    Please could we see more of the whole stage rather than close ups of the principals??
    Looking forward to Cosi Fan Tutti already! Thank you

  37. James Gordon responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:59am Reply

    Norma, it seems, is like London buses. No sight or sound of her for ages, then 3 come along in a row. All half full, none of them bearing mistletoe, but with enough good ideas between them to construct a first-rate production. Having seen her in the flesh already this year at ENO and in Edinburgh, this time I took the cinema option.

    ENO opted for an indoor setting probably around the time Bellini wrote the opera. In Edinburgh we had the French Resistance. Covent Garden gives us religion, in a universe parallel to Franco’s Spain but with women priests, which morphs into a living-room scene very much in the Now.

    All three, the last two in particular, have worthwhile things to say, but each focuses so much on its own concerns that it makes nonsense of those elements of the plot that don’t fit neatly with them. Mademoiselle from the lycée lacked the mystic aura of a high priestess (even when she was Cecilia Bartoli). ROH gives us the priestess, but there is no sense that this Cult of the Crazy-Fiction (or should that be the Moon-ies?) is seriously threatened by any enemy force beyond its own paranoid delusions. Pollione is a man in a suit – just a representative of the normal world who has strayed into this weird forest hideout, or the man from the ministry sent to find out what is going on? Unless he represents some sort of threatening, oppressive, occupying force, the full meaning of Norma’s predicament is lost.

    The permanent set, a forest of deadwood crosses, is rather wonderful: always atmospheric, by turns beautiful, spooky, mysterious – and eminently combustible. But a lot of money could have been saved by borrowing costumes from the current productions of Parsifal and Don Carlos.

    As it happens, both here and in Edinburgh the principals are good enough to overcome a flawed production, here assisted in the cinema by close-ups in the key duets and trios. Yoncheva has something of the young Callas about her, especially in the steely tones of her commanding first entrance. Too young, perhaps, as yet, but with the makings of something great in this role. It doesn’t work having an Adalgisa who looks and sounds older than Norma, although admittedly this was not the original intention. Even so, the scenes between Yoncheva and Ganassi are the highlights, both of them singing and acting with total conviction despite the chronological mismatch. It was interesting to hear Ganassi observing (in Italian, without subtitles) that she believes Pollione is unaware that Norma is her “boss”. I’m not sure I would have picked this up from Calleja’s reactions in the Act One finale. In any case, at this point, however beautifully he sings, Pollione is there to be brushed aside. He only rises to Norma’s plane at the end of the opera, which Calleja conveyed well. Brindley Sherratt sometimes sounded uncomfortable as Oroveso.

    But let’s fantasise a bit. Why not keep the Resistance setting of the Edinburgh production, but cast Norma as an abbess (and Adalgisa a novice), drawn into the activities of her father’s band of maquisards? Instead of filling the overture with an inane dumb show involving children (as both productions do), we could see a flashback of Pollione giving Norma a present – a copy of Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans. He hopes it will inflame her with anti-English feeling but, in the way of such things, instead it inflames her with anti-invader feeling and she starts having visions, hallucinating that she is Joan of Arc rediviva (or should that be redi-diva?). Thus we have a people under occupation, a prophetic high priestess, and even a context that explains Norma’s choice of immolation as a mode of assisted suicide. And what soprano could resist playing Norma fantasising that she is Joan of Arc? Maybe not even Anna Netrebko.

    I think I made the right decision which production to see live. In Edinburgh there were real flames at the end.

  38. Coppelia responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:03pm Reply

    Opera in the cinema at it's VERY best. emotionally powerful and psychologically gripping. *****

  39. Mary gribben responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:10pm Reply

    Wonderful music, enjoyable nerve tingling singing all swallowed up by an overcrowded stage production, dripping with iconograpgy and distracting neo nazis type symbols ..... I think,it was most unfortunate to sacrafice the beauty and human delemas -women sacraficing their careers, and integrity for unworthy love - a powerful message by Bellini, so that a modern political point could be made. I feel the director sacrificed the original opera to make this modern commentary... and interject a political view... the dramatic over elaboratness of the staging distracted and detracted from the opera. We lost something in the overwheming confusing paraphernalia and clutter. The personal is political and Bellini touched on this.... we nearly lost sight of Norma and her delemmas .... except for the wonderful singing. Adelgesia was totally miscast .

  40. Sonya Yoncheva a chanté divinement Norma. La mise en scène est bien digne de Monsieur Ollé : se croit intelligent mais ne l'est pas, comme beaucoup de ses confrères d'ailleurs.

  41. Eusa do Rêgo responded on 27 September 2016 at 12:34pm Reply

    About NORMA HD presentatio on 26/09. I'am not against new "mises en scène" for "old" operas. But I thinck that there is an important point to be observed: it is the libreto essence. It was painful for me to see Àlex Ollé's direction for NORMA yesterday. It would be acceptable the substitution of the Roman hierarchical society by the catholic hierarchy, as it was shown, but not the Celts social organisation. He perverted Celtic mythical connection with open Nature, where the Moon was the most powerful symbol, by stageing a close suffoting dimension of Catholic Inquisition. Even the actual catholic position isn't exactly what was shown by Ollé.
    Celtic culture ascribed priestesses a special power within Community life. But, . According to Christian religion, they would be considered whitches and sentenced to be burned alive.
    Àlex Ollé there waged a rebellion of Catalonia against Castile!
    Within Celtics culture, priestesses could break theirs vows. The problem for Adalgisa was the person to which she fell in love. Even today, there is no priestesses in Catholic religion! How to substitute a Celtic priestess for such a lie? Miserable!
    And the modern flat of Norma... In a very crucial moment of Norma's life, the character was stagead with a background of a rabbits cartoon on a TV screen!
    Àlex Ollé has profaned NORMA, indeed!
    Although her beautiful and mastered voice, Sonia Ganassi is too old to perform the young Priestess character. She appeared older than Norma! Nowadays, such a "detail" matters.
    Sonia Yoncheva was marvelous! She deserved a more competent direction!
    Please, I would like you to communicate these observations to Mr. Kasper Holten and to Mr. Àlex Ollé.
    Please, can you give me any reply?
    Thank you very much
    Eusa Freire do Rêgo - Lisbon - Portugal

  42. John Barnard responded on 27 September 2016 at 1:00pm Reply

    Viewed in Ludlow, this was a wonderful evening, Sonia Yoncheva almost in an operatic class of her own. But as others have mentioned, 'Watership Down' was a real and unnecessary distraction.

  43. Pamela Elphinstone responded on 27 September 2016 at 1:28pm Reply

    I watched the cinema transmission last night in Southend on Sea. Thank you ROH for a fabulous production. Bellini's music is so beautifully managed. I have to single out Sonya Yoncheva. She found a great representation of Norma and her voice is just superb. I loved the sets, costumes and lighting too. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  44. Sandra Parry responded on 27 September 2016 at 2:18pm Reply

    Great singing and thankfully acting throughout from Yoncheva Her .Casta Diva was out of this world but not too convinced by the rest of the cast. Unfortunately in our cinema there were no surtitles or explanatory handouts so the majority of us were both literally and figuratively left "in the dark". The production was very confusing which was exacerbated by the lack of surtitles. Yoncheva's Christian garb reminded me of The Vicar of Dibley and how many Crucifixions are needed to remind that it was a Christian setting ?

    • MARK ROCHESTER responded on 27 September 2016 at 4:48pm

      Actually you may have been more lucky than you realised not to have the subtitles as they clashed painfully and frequently with what was being presented. Making suspension of disbelief almost impossible.
      I yearned for something more subtle, that worked by suggestion. Have seen many updated or period non specific opera productions that work perfectly, here crude ideas were being made to fit something regardless of whether it did or not.

  45. R M Bull responded on 27 September 2016 at 4:37pm Reply

    I've now Sen Norma five times over many years. I saw it last night at the cinema and This was an impressive production, the singing magnificent. The addition interview and information given at cinema viewing add to the experience as well as the close view that enables one to see the performers and their impressive acting skills..It was especially helpful knowing the background to the creative sets, etc. Thank you, am looking forward to seeing it at Covent Garden later in the week.

  46. Joseph Grant responded on 27 September 2016 at 5:00pm Reply

    This wonderful performance of Norma was almost destroyed for me, in its cinema presentation, by the strident, mindless hype that I was obliged to watch before it started and during the interval.

    All theatre requires some degree of suspension of disbelief - willingness to set aside normal perceptions, assumptions and preoccupations and enter imaginary world. Opera is particularly demanding in this respect: music and the art of song can only reach the depths of our emotional response from the setting of a greatly simplified and dramatized narrative.

    I am used to watching trailers for other, upcoming offerings when I go to the cinema, and I am very happy to do the same at a cinema presentation by an opera company: but noisy, banal and trivializing hype for the performance I am about to watch is another matter. Sr. Bellini and the performers are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves, and need no help from a recent contestant on “Pointless Celebrities”. Sr. Bellini has, fortunately, provided a long overture to his opera, perhaps specifically intended to wash away such dross, and I settled to the first act of his opera in a properly receptive state of mind. I was rewarded by a performance which will, if only for Yoncheva’s part, still be remembered decades hence as a model and masterpiece.

    I conversed quietly during the interval, and sat down ready for the second act. As the lights went down my ears were assailed by a wild discordance broadcast at maximum volume – a trailer, as it turned out, for the ROH production of "The Nose". Great admirer though I am of Shostokovich’s setting of the human voice, I could not help being upset by something so stylistically inconsistent with my preparedness for Bellini’s bel canto. I was then exposed to a promotion for the ROH’s "Cosi fan tutti"(which looks delicious but is again stylistically and emotionally incompatible with "Norma") which included and extended interview of mind-crushing banality with the two female leads. This was followed by an illustrated lecture from Maestro Pappano, no doubt a well intentioned attempt to help me “appreciate” what I was about to hear, but based on the presumption that I was incapable of achieving that with the help of Sr. Bellini and the performers alone.

    The result was that my suspension of disbelief was shattered. My mind-state was now conditioned to the norms of commercial television. The inherent danger in the staging of the first scene overcame me, and I received it as an episode from an American day-time TV soap opera. Unable to recover, I then received the second scene (the abandoned attack on the Roman camp) as a clip "Dad’s Army". After a struggle, and with the help of brilliant singing, I managed to return to Bellini’s world and “appreciate” what was left of the second act. But my evening was ruined.

    I understand that the ROH, along with most major opera houses, is almost desperate to appeal to a “younger audience”. I myself was saddened, as I usually am at these events, to see no one apparently under the age of 65 in the cinema last night. The insertion into the programme of the type of promotional hype that we were exposed to will not help. Preaching to the converted, to those who have paid for their tickets and taken their seats, is pointless; and a sermon in such a style and idiom is quite likely to alienate those, perhaps in their 40s or 50s, trying opera for the first time. The promotional effort should be directed elsewhere, and it should have a completely different tone.

    Opera is demanding. Its singers are the artistic equivalents of Olympic athletes: they are not “people like you and me” any more than Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps are; their performances are the product of years of arduous training laid on a foundation of raw talent, discipline and determination: many are called and very few are chosen. Its conductors are musicians of the intellectual weight of Nobel laureates. Its repertoire is largely the product of composers of genius. The great opera houses are the equivalent of Formula 1 racing teams in the demands on their management and in the diversity of the specialized skills of their staffs. Opera will never appeal to audiences unused to extending a commensurate effort of sustained attention. There is a limit to how “accessible” it can be made, to how far it can be made “unintimidating”. Trivializing it, making it banal, will not draw an audience to opera itself, but at best to empty celebrity performances of famous arias, which mean nothing and convey nothing out of their proper context.

    The ADHD world of the sound-bite, the meme and the Tweet is not one in which opera will be enjoyed. If a new audience is to be found it will be among those emerging from, or never immersed in, that culture. They are likely to be in their 40s and 50s, and to work in professional and technical occupations that require sustained attention, active engagement and a fairly broad knowledge of the world. Opera is swimming against the cultural current, and would be wise to avoid it at its mid-stream strongest, to stay fairly close to the bank. It may be able to catch a continuing audience in the quiet waters there, if it uses appropriate bait. If it cannot, it must be allowed to slowly fade away.

    I hope that, at future ROH cinema presentations, I will be allowed to watch a few trailers and then just the opera, standing in its own right on the work of its composer, performers and producers. Let opera speak for itself.

  47. Barbara Wright responded on 27 September 2016 at 5:19pm Reply

    We saw this last night. The singing was sublime ,acting ditto, the production questionable.

  48. Graham Rigby responded on 27 September 2016 at 5:58pm Reply

    The music and acting were very good as usual with ROH performances but the production awful. From the start when the acolytes were told to look for the silvery disk of the new moon. They would have been looking for a long time as the new moon can't normally be seen. Then of course the FULL moon appeared. We were treated to druids who appeared to be members of the KU Klux Klan and remarkably changed into Catholic priests and cardinals with all the paraphernalia associated with this religion; crucifixes, confessional rosary who worship the one god Irminsul a saxon/german deity. Very confused thinking! I left, disappointed. at the interval!

  49. R.Twiston Davies responded on 27 September 2016 at 6:19pm Reply

    Agree totally with Barbara Wright, though I would say the production was not so much questionable as insulting, to the superb performers,all Catholics and Spanish culture. There was no need to use crucifixes, a wooden cross would have made the point without belittling the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Nor was there any need for the sacrilegious use of a monstrance on a pagan altar and the mocking of the sacrament of Confession by the use of a stole, which was kissed as a Catholic priest would do before donning it. These and the wearing round Norma's hand of a pastiche of a Catholic Rosary were just gratuitous insults which added nothing to the production but, like the overdone crucifixes, merely distracted from some wonderful singing and acting. Alex Olle and Kaspar Holten should be ashamed of themselves. This was not Art, merely crude and tasteless plagiarism which detracted miserably from superb music and musicianship.

    • MARK ROCHESTER responded on 28 September 2016 at 12:36pm

      I think they don't care about our fragile 'sensibilities'.
      To me it calls into question their 'artistic' and aesthetic subtlety of thought and feeling.

  50. Richard responded on 27 September 2016 at 6:49pm Reply

    I saw the opera then the ad for cinema, i beleive the opera is not about war but instead a study of 'natural justice' thst is its about revenge, conceit and altruistic retribution.

  51. J J-B responded on 27 September 2016 at 6:50pm Reply

    All a bit overwhelming, to be honest & I think it will take me a while to process it properly. The singing..principals & chorus were sublime, the set spectacular and as imposing as the story demands. As a staunch Bellini fan, I've never really 'got' Norma in the so many seem to...give me the melodies of I Puritani any day. But last night, the music reached deep inside and took hold of my heart; it still has it. Thank you so much for the Live Screening initiative and all the work that goes in to the trailers etc around it. For me, it adds so much.

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:44pm

      Agreed.
      After the WNO I Puritani, the recent ENO Norma and now this, all we need now is a La Sombambula and maybe some collector's items like Beatrice di Tenda.

  52. Deborah Jones responded on 27 September 2016 at 7:20pm Reply

    This was the most moving, emotional productiion of the wonderful bel canto opera. The singing was sublime, especially that of the two leads. The staging with the Catholic element was totally misjudged and gave the wrong impression entirely of the plight of the pagan cult under Roman occupation. Shame, would have spoilt it were it not for th superlative singing.

  53. Robert Booy responded on 27 September 2016 at 7:28pm Reply

    I'm not into modern productions but this 'contemporary' Norma was excellent and totally credible. The singing of all the soloists and chorus was beautiful. (Thank you Netrebko for canceling, thank you ROH for replacing her for Sonya Yoncheva.) A perfect start of the new season. Unfortunately the screening froze three times during the second act.

  54. Claire Sanderson responded on 27 September 2016 at 8:26pm Reply

    Thank you for the cinema broadcasts, they have helped me to take a new interest in opera and develop it into a full grown love. I will be visiting the real thing for the first time in December, had it not been for these broadcasts I may never have gone. Thank you!

  55. Angela Kennedy responded on 27 September 2016 at 8:28pm Reply

    Drained after Norma last night and cannot stop humming Casta Diva which is about the most exquisite aria in opera. The music is sublime and storyline endlessly emotional. Loved the Catholic setting and crucifix set BUT was mega confused by the ERA it was supposed to be set in . Kids costumes were just dull , and concept of modernity a bit off putting , prefer a bit more mystique . However nothing could detract from the beautiful voices, Pappano's very personal conducting (love his style which is always joyous). The Bellini opera is one of my all time favourites. Please bring it back more often, we all love it and this opera will attract a younger audience .It resonates and rings true today with so many comparisons in the world . Viva Norma and the fabulous Sonya ... Not quite Maria Callas .... But she will go down at Covent Garden with real passion, style and beauty .

    • Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:22pm

      Right, Angela, an interesting comment, but I couldn't figure out what the lady Church of England vicars were doing in the Roman Catholic Church. Or the Druid faith, come to that.
      You are also right about Sonya's ability to act, which she shares with Callas. As for her excellent singing, I wonder what stage of her career Callas was at when she recorded the role? Otherwise it's difficult to compare their relative greatness as artists.

    • Marcus responded on 28 September 2016 at 1:35pm

      Why compare singers? Every singer has individual qualities. I find comparisons insulting.

  56. Peter responded on 27 September 2016 at 9:13pm Reply

    The fabulous production with ENO was a tough act to follow. This ROH version ladt night was excellent.
    The cinema version gave us the full intensity of the acting and singing of the title role. I'd love a dvd of this, or at least hear a BBC Radio3 broadcast,

  57. Marianne responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:29pm Reply

    Just beautiful performance so memorable.
    Agree with the children's play ground part that seem to not belong in the production.
    Listened to Maria Callas' Casta Diva this morning at home and Sonya is so close.
    Great to be able to watch opera and ballet live in local cinemas. It is affordable and allows opera lovers to see and be almost present at the ROH..

  58. karenb responded on 27 September 2016 at 11:42pm Reply

    All I can say is thank goodness Anna Netrebko withdrew so we had a chance to see and hear the amazing Sonya Yoncheva. I had never seen or heard Norma so had nothing to compare it with in terms of production but was mesmerised by Sonya 's performance. Beautiful voice, can't wait to see her in other things now.

  59. Alan Munch responded on 28 September 2016 at 1:35am Reply

    It was superb, a gripping opera sung and acted wonderfully, with Sonya outstanding as Norma. This was my first time watching an ROH production live in the cinema, and I will be back for more... it was convenient, comfortable, informative, and the closeup photography in fact offers advantages. I was expecting to feel it was a second rate way to experience this opera, but came home thinking it was not... just different. I think the only negative of being in a cinema is that many in the audience do not applaud, even though I expect they want to. I did. And some people leave quickly at the end, rather than stay for the curtain calls. Thanks to all, it was a great experience.

  60. JohnR responded on 28 September 2016 at 12:05pm Reply

    I was simply blown away by Sonya Yoncheva's performance! A major talent, who I suspect will be much in demand for productions of "Norma" around the world. Joseph Calleja was good, and although I was unconvinced by Sonia Ganassi's Adalgisa at first, the trio that ends Act 1 was fabulous and I thought all three soloists were stunning from then onwards. Great playing from the orchestra and the chorus was, as ever, outstanding! Is there a better chorus anywhere in the world at the moment than this one? I thought the production generally worked, although, inevitably there was some anachronisms, such as Christian priestesses going off to collect mistletoe and a Christian sect engaging in human sacrifice. I saw the performance at the Odeon in Oxford, where we lost the last 7 minutes or so of the visual, apparently because of a projector issue. Frustratingly, we didn't get to see the denouement or the curtain calls, but at least we didn't miss out on the sublime singing as the performance drew to a close! However, I am intrigued to know how the ending was changed!

    • Noelia Moreno responded on 29 September 2016 at 12:22pm

      Dear John,

      Thank you very much for your comments. We're sorry you missed the end of the performance and are following up with the cinema. If you experience any more technical issues please contact cinema@roh.org.uk.

      Best wishes,

      Noelia
      ROH Cinema

  61. Chris responded on 28 September 2016 at 9:17pm Reply

    We really enjoyed it in Orpington. But alas the screen went blank just a few minutes before the end. Can anyone tell me who died and how and I'll let my parents know. We think we heard just one shot. Any chance of seeing the end on theYouTube channel or such like?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 6 October 2016 at 10:40am

      Hi Chris,
      Sorry to hear you weren't able to watch the end of the relay.
      I've let the cinema team know about the issues in Orpington. Pleased to tell you that Norma will be made into a DVD. Keep an eye on our website and Twitter for more details of the release date.
      All best,
      Rose

  62. Edgar Villanueva González responded on 28 September 2016 at 9:25pm Reply

    Si el director de escena advierte que no hay que confundir a los encapuchados blancos con el Ku Klux Klan, pero una cruz en llamas se alza al final a modo de pira funeraria, si el amasijo de crucifijos que sirve de escenografía "decora" más que impresiona, si los personajes militares son una parodia de una época de la historia española y si Norma tiene la voz de Norina de “Don Pasquale”-con todo y que Yoncheva me parece una muy buena cantante- ¿Qué queda de la ópera de Bellini? ¿Es que transgredir significa necesariamente caer a patadas a música y libreto? Lo de Oroveso dando un "tiro de gracia" a su hija al final me parece truculento y gratuito. Si me gustó, en cambio, el tratamiento de las mujeres en el ambiente eclesiastico. Muy bien cantado el Pollione de Joseph Calleja,y bravísima la Adalgisa de Sonia Ganassi, heredera de Fiorenza Cossotto en este rol. Ella fue el elemento más sólido de todo el cast. Pappano condujo una orquesta toda nervio y de tempos rapidos, se adivina que para ayudar las limnitaciones de los cantantes.Eché de menos la frase belliniana, larga, lenta y elegíaca.... Pero es lo que hay!

  63. Peter responded on 29 September 2016 at 3:56pm Reply

    BBC RADIO 3 ALERT:
    Sonya Yoncheva sang the title role in a concert performance of Mascgani's IRIS at Montpellier in the summer.
    This coincided with the sensational London Holland Park fully-staged production, also this summer with another gifted soprano. You can still hear Sonya Y. as Iris for a limited period on the BBC radio 3 Iplayer in the 'afternoon on three series'. Unmissable after the cinema broadcast.
    Come to think if it, I'd like to see and hear her in a production on Iris at the Garden. Any chance?

  64. Johnty responded on 1 October 2016 at 6:42pm Reply

    I understood that the story line was very difficult to follow. In the video of Joan Sutherland, on Youtube, this was true. The competent acting of Josef and Sonya made the story clear and moving.

    Unfortunately, I did find the use of Roman Catholic symbolism and military uniforms, in relation to Druids, confusing. Roman Catholicism is more associated with the Roman invaders than the Druids, who would not then, or now, have ever used the crucifix as a symbol.

    The base frequencies were missing from the sound, but I gather that this may be something due to the relay function.

    Despite these points, which I hope are helpful, it was a most enjoyable evening.

    • Suzan responded on 3 October 2016 at 5:13pm

      Roman Catholicism did not exist, far from being associated with, the Roman invaders.
      Rome was in Gaul many years before Christ and there would have been Druids or some such similar religious cult.
      Roman Catholicism did not properly exist until well into the 4th Century AD.

  65. Harri Eerola responded on 3 October 2016 at 10:25am Reply

    What was this all about? "Norma" is a story about ancient Druids and Romans. I didn't see the point behind this "modernization". Yoncheva was very much OK, not anywhere near Callas -but who could be- and Calleja got better as the evening went on. Pappano dealt well with Bellini's score. But I didn't like the production as a whole.

  66. Frank Farrell responded on 3 October 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

    It is over a week since I saw Norma but I haven't stopped talking about it.. It was the first time that I heard the full opera. The set was amazing. At first I was surprised to see all the crucifixes in a druid setting but gradually the symbolism emerged. Sonya Yoncheva was the perfect Norma and the entire opera was the most melodic experience I have had in opera. Thank you. Thank you

  67. monalisa responded on 3 October 2016 at 4:53pm Reply

    Would have liked to comment, but as ROH still hasn't figure out how to show this in Canada, couldn't see it. I know we are only the colonies and don't count.

    • Noelia Moreno responded on 5 October 2016 at 2:58pm

      Dear Susan,

      Thank you for your message. We will soon have screenings in Canada and will continue to inform our international partners about the Canadian interest in our relays.

      Best wishes,
      Noelia

  68. Suzan responded on 3 October 2016 at 5:08pm Reply

    I am still confused by the bizarre setting, context and symbolism of this production. Perhaps Àlex Ollé should see a therapist in order to explore his obvious issues with Spanish catholicism and not inflict his troubled psyche on the rest of us. I have not seen a more ridiculous production since Opera North set Norma in a north American forest in the 17th century.
    The singing and music were absolutely sublime which more than made up for this travesty.
    Also, the commentator should ask Sir Antonio how to pronounce his name correctly. It is an Italian name thus both As are short, not Pappaaano but Pappano

  69. Peter Erdos responded on 4 October 2016 at 2:56pm Reply

    I love Bellini and I love Norma. Although I dont wish to be very destructive as I thought I will be after a lot of bad failures in recent years at Covent Garden I quite enjoyed this performance. Having got through the first act without much to grumble about (quite impressive stage picture) the second act is a bit of a shock to the system.AWFUL! The TV, the bycicle , the standard lamp etc. was a bit too much. Howeverr all apart musically there was nothing to complain about. Under Pappano's superb direction all sounded good. I liked Yoncheva it was a brave effort and one that paid off. She sounded much younger than the ususal "Norma" sound (one thinks of Callas, Sutherland,Caballe,Bumbry or Verrett) but the drama got through.Casta Diva was examplery and both great duets with Ganassi were very good. Calleja is great Pollione a little short of Vickers. Sherratt sounded below par but all in all a good performance. Thank you for bringing it to the cinema as it is impossible for me to get to the theatre.

  70. Julie responded on 8 October 2016 at 12:31am Reply

    I'm usually not so critical but I saw this live in cinema and it was a disaster. You may fool the opera newbies but for someone who has been listening and watching opera for so many years, it was a big disappointment. Hopefully ROH will get its act together.
    P.S. I see so many positive comments. This just proves how subjective art actually is. Peace to all

  71. Faye responded on 13 October 2016 at 2:19pm Reply

    Norma - showing in US theatres Oct. 13th. Spoiler alert here: I saw it live at ROH in Sept. Set design totally distracting; offensive to Christians. Had to close my eyes to blot out the visuals; as did a number of attendees I spoke to during the Act 1 break. My companion actually got up after 15 minutes, crawled over people, and left. What you can do - the music is beautiful: get on YouTube and watch the Joan Sutherland production. It will be a much more satisfying experience for you with the beautiful music of this opera.

  72. Joan Maginnis responded on 13 October 2016 at 4:32pm Reply

    If you loathe religion, and Christianity in particular, this production is for you! If not, caveat emptor. The staging and costuming comprise a smorgasbord of anti-Catholic bigotry. I was at ROH to witness this atrocity up close and personal. The production sets a new dramatic standard for hate...in the name of "tolerance," no less!

  73. Suzan Ekrem responded on 14 October 2016 at 4:47pm Reply

    A friend saw the live transmission in Tunbridge Wells and was very distressed at the anti Christian interpretation.

    Why be disrespectful of Jesus Christ and Christians ?

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