Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SFO: Norma's New Tenor

This past Saturday night I heard Norma again at the San Francisco Opera, this time with tenor Russell Thomas, who took over the role of Pollione after the 2nd performance. The change in cast & the altogether more cohesive performance made this a much improved experience from opening night. Mr. Thomas sounded youthful & firm, & his singing was detailed, with nice dynamic contrasts. I liked how his voice was a good complement to tenor A.J. Glueckert's in the 1st act.

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sounded even more capable than on opening night & her singing was glorious. Mezzo Jamie Barton's voice was impressively uniform throughout its range, all the way up to a secure high C. Both of their duets triggered prolonged applause, during which the 2 women embraced each other with evident joy. Nicola Luisotti's conducting was dynamic, & the orchestra played with vitality. The woodwind solos were particularly beautiful. The male chorus sounded bold.

I heard the show from balcony standing room, where the voices were so intense & ringing that it sometimes seemed the performers were singing right in my face or that my ears were about to pop. I was in good company, with standees who were attending for the 4th or 5th time. Everyone was skeptical of the production's version of mistletoe, though. The railing was full, & a woman squeezed herself in between myself & my neighbor after the lights came down, then left before the end of the performance.

Norma's 2 children were rambunctious this evening & could be heard giggling during one of their exits. I hadn't noticed before that all the trees are cut down by the end of the opera & that the druids are trapped with Norma in the final moments.

§ Norma
Vincenzo Bellini / Felice Romani

San Francisco Opera
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Kevin Newbury

Norma: Sondra Radvanovsky
Adalgisa: Jamie Barton
Pollione: Russell Thomas

Oroveso: Christian Van Horn
Clotilda: Jacqueline Piccolino
Flavio: A.J. Glueckert
Norma's Children: Oliver Kuntz & Miles Sperske

Sat 09/27/14 7:30pm
War Memorial Opera House

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