Bellini: Norma

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

WORKS: Norma
PERFORMER: June Anderson, Daniela Barcellona, Ildar Abdrazakov; Verdi Festival Chorus, Europa Galante Orchestra/Fabio Biondi; dir. Roberto Andò (Teatro Regio, Parma, 2001)
This performance of Bellini’s masterpiece is based on a new edition of the score and played on period instruments by the Europa Galante Orchestra. Bellini’s instrumental colours respond well to such treatment. Some traditional high notes have gone and the cast decorate their music with varying degrees of conviction. Given the importance of these editorial factors, some account of them on one of the DVDs or within the booklet would have been useful. Instead the latter includes a tiny note on the composer and a synopsis.


Sensitively designed in traditional mode by Giovanni Carluccio, Roberto Andò’s direction offers little in the way of dramatic cohesion, with flailing arms a particular problem. Shin Young Hoon’s Pollione is vocally under-nourished, and though Daniela Barcellona’s voice is fine as Adalgisa, it’s not always expertly or subtly used. And if we’re being historical about the piece, Bellini wrote the role for a soprano, not – as here – the traditional mezzo.

As Norma, June Anderson has some good vocal moments and rather fewer dramatic ones. Most of the notes are there, but the tone higher up is sometimes wiry and the acting self-conscious. She relaxes as she goes on, however, and the crucial moment of self-accusation (‘Son io!’) is moving. Best of the principals is Ildar Abdrazakov’s substantial Oroveso. But who goes to Norma for the Oroveso?


Fabio Biondi conducts a generally spirited but rather glib musical account that rarely measures up to the score’s consistent eloquence. George Hall