Norma

Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini's two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, reviewed, Sept. 5, 1996; runs through Sept. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 50 min. Cast: Jane Eaglen (Norma), Jose Cura (Pollione), Susanne Mentzer (Adalgisa), Kenneth Cox (Oroveso); William George, Tihana Herceg. (Sally Wolf replaces Jane Eaglen on Sept. 18, 21.) Some of the world's most beautiful vocal music hung on one of the world's flimsiest plots: Against all odds, Bellini's "Norma" generates its own kind of greatness. Before a near-capacity, seemingly delighted audience, the L.A. Opera's first-ever staging of this bel canto near-masterpiece proved eminently satisfactory on the first count, not much above average on the second. Although the legendary Maria Callas proved that it was possible to cope with the title role's crushing vocal demands and still present the stage image of a loved and abandoned romantic figure, tradition has generally found its Normas among sopranos of, let's say, more generous proportion. And why not? The prototypical Norma need only stand still and strike poses of anger and despair while summoning mountainous reserves of vocal brawn to cope with the audible lava of her music. All of this lay well within the realm of young British soprano Jane Eaglen, in her debut with the Los Angeles Opera in the role she has now come to own for this generation. Moving no more than necessary through Alan Burrett's tricky lighting on John Conklin's gloomy set (early sci-fi, demanding only those robots from "Mystery Science Theater" to complete the picture), she even fulfilled Bellini's suggestion for a pianissimo now and then, which for this role counts as service beyond the call. Even though her supporting cast came on somewhat down the mountainside from Eaglen's peak, Suzanne Mentzer provided a lovely and touching Adalgisa, nicely blending her silvery tones into Eaglen's gold in the opera's several duets. Argentine tenor Jose Cura sang well, but seemed more concerned with strutting his own good looks than with entering into the action. Conductor and sometime tenor Placido Domingo, possibly still exhausted from his skimpy duties in the previous night's "Pagliacci," led the musical forces in the manner of a well-routined accompanist but not much more. Nicholas Muni, who had created this production for the Seattle and Houston operas, did what he could to create some visual interest consisting mostly of reducing the Druids' chorus into a bunch of crawling zombies. The funeral pyre at the end, in which Norma and her lover expiate their guilty love, burned at low intensity, as did much of what had gone before Eaglen's truly luminous vocal performance aside. Alan Rich

Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, reviewed, Sept. 5, 1996; runs through Sept. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 50 min. Cast: Jane Eaglen (Norma), Jose Cura (Pollione), Susanne Mentzer (Adalgisa), Kenneth Cox (Oroveso); William George, Tihana Herceg. (Sally Wolf replaces Jane Eaglen on Sept. 18, 21.) Some of the world’s most beautiful vocal music hung on one of the world’s flimsiest plots: Against all odds, Bellini’s “Norma” generates its own kind of greatness. Before a near-capacity, seemingly delighted audience, the L.A. Opera’s first-ever staging of this bel canto near-masterpiece proved eminently satisfactory on the first count, not much above average on the second. Although the legendary Maria Callas proved that it was possible to cope with the title role’s crushing vocal demands and still present the stage image of a loved and abandoned romantic figure, tradition has generally found its Normas among sopranos of, let’s say, more generous proportion. And why not? The prototypical Norma need only stand still and strike poses of anger and despair while summoning mountainous reserves of vocal brawn to cope with the audible lava of her music. All of this lay well within the realm of young British soprano Jane Eaglen, in her debut with the Los Angeles Opera in the role she has now come to own for this generation. Moving no more than necessary through Alan Burrett’s tricky lighting on John Conklin’s gloomy set (early sci-fi, demanding only those robots from “Mystery Science Theater” to complete the picture), she even fulfilled Bellini’s suggestion for a pianissimo now and then, which for this role counts as service beyond the call. Even though her supporting cast came on somewhat down the mountainside from Eaglen’s peak, Suzanne Mentzer provided a lovely and touching Adalgisa, nicely blending her silvery tones into Eaglen’s gold in the opera’s several duets. Argentine tenor Jose Cura sang well, but seemed more concerned with strutting his own good looks than with entering into the action. Conductor and sometime tenor Placido Domingo, possibly still exhausted from his skimpy duties in the previous night’s “Pagliacci,” led the musical forces in the manner of a well-routined accompanist but not much more. Nicholas Muni, who had created this production for the Seattle and Houston operas, did what he could to create some visual interest consisting mostly of reducing the Druids’ chorus into a bunch of crawling zombies. The funeral pyre at the end, in which Norma and her lover expiate their guilty love, burned at low intensity, as did much of what had gone before Eaglen’s truly luminous vocal performance aside. Alan Rich

Norma

More Film

  • James Bond Skyfall

    Universal Wins International Rights to James Bond 25

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • In 'That Summer,' the Stars of

    In 'That Summer,' the Stars of 'Grey Gardens' Look More Unhinged Than Ever

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey'

    Film News Roundup: Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey' Set for July Release

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film

    China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film Bureau Chief

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • Morgan Freeman Sexual Harassment

    Morgan Freeman Pulled From Visa Marketing After Harassment Allegations

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • Boba Fett movie

    ‘Star Wars:’ A Boba Fett Movie Is in the Works

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Hollywood Reacts to Impending Harvey Weinstein Arrest: 'It's Been a Long Time Coming'

    Norma (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; 3201 seats; $ 125 top) L.A. Opera presents Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera; libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play by Alexandre Soumet. Conductor, Placido Domingo (William Vendice on Sept. 15, 18 ), with the L. A. Opera Orchestra and Chorus; director, Nicholas Muni; designers , John Conklin, Alan Burrett. Opened, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content