This Friday, the Royal Opera’s powerful new production of Norma opens in cinemas in Sydney.
This performance of Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece which features the incomparable aria Casta Diva was recorded live on stage at London’s Covent Garden last month. The production, beautifully designed and crafted, is directed by Àlex Ollé of the Spanish production house La Fura dels Baus. It uses the traditional druid setting of the opera to examine contemporary attitudes to religion.
Antonio Pappano conducts a stellar cast led by Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja and Italian mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi. Anna Netrebko was to have taken the role of Norma, which Maria Callas made her own in the late 1940s and 1950s, followed by Joan Sutherland. However, announcing that her voice was developing in a different direction, Netrebko withdrew from the role to be replaced by Yoncheva.
Yoncheva has drawn excellent reviews in this role as the high priestess who defies her religion to secretly secret love and have a family with her enemy Pollione, sung by Joseph Calleja. Repressed by the inflexible laws of her religion, Norma is driven towards one fatal solution…
Also performing are David Junghoon Kim as Flavio and Brindley Sherratt as Oroveso.
Read the fascinating back story to the production in The Guardian