First reactions for Cecilia Bartoli as Norma

Norma 2013 – Cecilia Bar­toli as Norma © Hans Jörg Michel

Who loves , will probably love her Norma. Her eyes sparkle, she rolls her ‘R’s, breathes the piani, and tackles the easily. Her stage début in Norma wants to get rid of the existing performance tradition; to free interpreters from the shadow of . Bartoli’s Norma is a celebration of her own personal style: somewhat mannered, but perfect, and always unmistakable.

says Bayerischer Rundfunk.

However Deutschlandradio wanted to boo; not the performers or the production team, but the audience who annoyed with falling handbags, cell-phones and inappropriate hysterical cries of “bravo!”. However, they too cry “bravo” in their review,

Cecilia Bartoli is, at the beginning of Bellini’s Norma in Salzburg, below her potential, but then her musicianship shows through… After the interval Bartoli was totally convincing, and her coloratura fireworks fit perfectly, but paramount was her interpretation of the role, which offered something special, very different from Callas (and her countless successors): a spirituality in the bel canto with innumerable shades and colours.

Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production, set in Mussolini’s Italy, “is like a red carpet, laid out to let the performers shine”, says the Austrian Kurier. And of Bartoli?

She plays with impressive intensity. Her singing, especially in the second part, is enchantingly beautiful… She becomes one with her role, her coloratura, the outbursts, the humility in “Casta Diva” aria, act naturally.

Focus, along with the first night audience, gave a thumbs-up,

The audience relished this Norma beyond all norms („Norma“ jenseits aller Normen) and Bartoli was visibly touched by the ovation.

However, they also noted a slightly subdued Casta diva – maybe stage fright, they ask. This could well be true. I have heard this in her voice during the first ever  concert and on her return to with Barenboim, both high-profile and stressful situations. Nothing could be more stressing than Norma last night. Then her confidence grows, fears are forgotten and the voice opens up like a flower.

Focus also noted staging that was at odds with the libretto, something anticipated by this blog a couple of days ago. Again, it was the second act that impressed most:

Bartoli was on top form in the second act, and gave great drama to her Norma… Rebeca Olvera as Adalgisa looked almost childlike, which gave Salzburg’s Norma an even more intimate character, and reminded once more that Bellini was a contemporary of Schubert.

The endless applause at the curtain was almost boo-free.

Norma 2013 – Cecilia Bar­toli as Norma © Hans Jörg Michel


  1. Sandy Olson-Hill says

    It is appalling to me that audience did not bother to check their cell phones? Moreover, “almost boo free”? it goes with out saying also…

  2. says

    Thank you for posting the first reactions to Norma at Whitsun Festival. I am very happy to hear that the production went so well. I heard a streaming version today of the Decca recording and “Casta Diva” is just beautiful, so much more rich than previous recordings of this aria. Well done, Cecilia Bartoli and cast… Hope tomorrow night goes as well for you…

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