Monday, May 14, 2018

The Many Faces of Norma

                                                          Casta Diva, che inargenti                 Chaste goddess, who doth bathe in silver light
                                                          Queste sacre antiche piante,             These ancient, hallowed trees,
                                                          Al noi volgi il bel sembiante,             Turn thy fair face upon us,
                                                          Senza nube e senza vel !                   Unveiled and unclouded !

                                                                                                  -- Norma, Act I, Scene 1

For the past four years, it has been my privilege to photograph dress rehearsals for Opera Southwest productions.  This spring OSW presented Bellini's 1831 bel canto opera, Norma, featuring soprano Lindsay Ohse in the title role.

Norma has been called "the Everest of opera," principally because it stretches the singer to the limits of her vocal abilities.  To read (and hear) more about these challenges, click here for an article from the New York Times last September, on the occasion of the Metropolitan Opera's recent production of Norma.

In addition to the vocal challenges, Norma is, as the Times article notes, "an even greater challenge for a singer as actress."  In the opera Norma is simultaneously the high priestess of a Druid cult oppressed by the Romans in medieval France; 

daughter of the Druid chieftan; 

the jilted secret lover of the Roman proconsul, 

by whom she is the mother of two children . . . 

whom at one point she seriously considers murdering in their sleep;

and confidant of the Druid acolyte who has unwittingly fallen in love with Norma's lover.  

(Hey, it's opera . . . things are complicated!)

In the course of the opera, the singer must play all these roles, and must convey in her acting (as well as in her singing) the attendant emotions.

Here Lindsay Ohse shines.  Let me show you some of her many faces of Norma.

Brava, Lindsay!

If you would like to see images from the entire performance of Norma, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.