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Not mad, but pushed to the edge of her sanity, is Norma, also from Covent Garden last year. Curiously, this Àlex Ollé’s production worked well in the theatre but has less impact on film. The immense and atmospheric cave of crucifixes just doesn’t overwhelm as it did onstage, and the hypnotic effect of a huge chasuble swinging throughout ‘Casta diva’ doesn’t register when the camera focuses on the soprano. However, the 20th-century Spanish Catholic cult updating works well enough and doesn’t overly disturb the storyline, even if the children’s space hoppers do still jar and upstage the music.

Sonya Yoncheva’s Norma offers an even and generously sung account, her voice surmounting the challenges with confidence, her acting sincere, lacking just that extra personal stamp that the further productions should bring. Sonia Ganassi’s Adalgisa often veers into extreme bumpiness, and Joseph Calleja seems to be having a slightly offnight. Antonio Pappano’s conducting, glowing in the house, here seems a little rushed.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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