Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton Shine in New Production of Norma at San Francisco Opera

September 10, 2014 10:02 PM

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Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton Shine in New Production of Norma at San Francisco Opera

Since the La Scala premier of Bellini's Norma on the day after Christmas 1831, the opera has been a gritty challenge for any company to take on -- starting with the soprano (or occasional mezzo) in the title role. Fans of this supreme contender in Bel Canto repertoire understand that no two leading ladies have ever come to the role with the same equipment nor have they employed the same dynamics (or keys), or opted for the same sets of accumulated vocal ornamentation. What the anointed singers and their producers and conductors draw upon are comparable blends of charisma, dramatic fortitude, sparkling High Cs and anything from acceptable to scintillating elasticity in the coloratura department. For such vocal artists, Norma is the ultimate showcase. The goal is to present the singer while she is in her prime. At the moment, that spotlight is on Sondra Radvanovsky -- star of San Francisco Opera's new production of Norma which opened the 2014/15 Season this past Friday night.

Throughout the evening, Sondra Radvanovsky's performance was measured and consistent. Her rendition of the Act I aria, "Casta Diva" was beautifully delivered, her sudden and sustained transitions from forte to pianissimo flowing easily back and forth and sailing over the orchestra. Torn between her ...

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