Powerful Norma in Buenos Aires

ArgentinaArgentina  Bellini, Norma: Buenos Aires Lírica. Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Buenos Aires Lírica, Conductor: Javier Logioia Orbe. Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 8.6.2012. (JSJ)

Director: Louis Désiré
Sets: Diego Méndez Casariego
Costumes: Mónica Toschi
Lighting: Rubén Daniel Conde
Chorus: Juan Casasbellas

Pollione: Paolo Bartolucci
Oroveso: Christian Peregrino
Norma: Florencia Fabris
Adalgisa: Adriana Mastrángelo
Clotilde: Patricia Deleo
Flavio: Nazareth Aufe

Florencia Fabris, a powerful Norma in Buenos Aires Lírica’s new production. Photo Liliana Morsia

Bravo Florencia Fabris, bravo Adriana Mastrángelo, respectively Norma and Adalgisa in this new production of Bellini’s tragic masterpiece from Buenos Aires Lírica! Rarely have I heard an audience so quiet, without so much as a cough during “Casta diva” and “Mira o Norma” and much else on this opening night production, and the power of their performances was palpable.

For Fabris, the role is ideal, mostly within the range she is most comfortable, and she showed herself to be fully up to its demands, captivating both vocally and dramatically. Mastrángelo too has a powerful voice used to good effect in an affecting interpretation of innocence and loyalty to Norma. Alongside her, however, Italian tenor Paolo Bartolucci, who seemed to focus largely to a remote point in the far reaches of the theatre, was pleasantly timbred but much outpowered. Completing the cast Christian Peregrino also made for a strong Oroveso, while Patricia Deleo and Nazareth Aufe were satisfactory as Clotilde and Flavio.

Praise too for the orchestra and conductor Javier Logioia Orbe, with good phrasing, although sounding a bit thin at times, as did the small chorus.

But it was in the production itself, from the French producer Louis Désiré, that things were more mixed. The concept of the sacred forest, adapting into Norma’s dwelling, was simply and well presented but the symbolism of a transparent curtain with what one presumes to be a street map of Rome – and which at the end, somehow associated to a pyre, was draped over Norma and Pollione as well as Oroveso and the Druids – was less clear.

Similarly with the dress, with the characterization of the Druids somewhat reminiscent of the Asterix characters while the Romans were dressed in all red suits and accessories, down to braces and footwear!

Jonathan Spencer Jones