First glimpses of Cecilia Bartoli's Norma at Salzburg. They explain the cover of the Festival brochure.
Bartoli's introduction to the Whitsun Festival brochure reads,
But also, Norma is often misjudged from the point-of-view of its plot. A careful staging will show, however, that the gripping events unfold in a stringent and linear way, reflecting how the heroine develops emotionally until the conscious final step towards her self-sacrifice at the stake.
And indeed this tragic conflict between her duties and that towards which her heart is drawn is a struggle to which many women are exposed sooner or later. Too often, women give up what is most valuable to them, but too often they themselves are made into victims. Norma tries to escape from such restraints by sacrificing that which is most dear to her: first her children, then her love and finally her life.
‘Misjudged' is used again in the introduction to the opera,
Norma is surely one of the most well-known operas, but also one of the most misjudged. Our new approach is meant to show that this work – popular, but often received with very mixed reactions – is one of the central works of romantic music theatre.
Here's hoping that director's Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier haven't misjudged their concept: last year's Festival audience gave them a fair whipping for their vision of Giulio Cesare. As with most updatings there may be stumbling blocks with the mention of Druids and swords in the libretto, though in Austria they just might be able to get away with it; Italian critics may not be so kind.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Well you just take the libretto at face value and enjoy the staging regardless. I was at the 17 May Norma and “Druid” did distract my attention the smallest bit, but who could care? And with Bartoli’s focus on attention to “original” voicing, dynamics, instrumentation and all, it would be inconsistent to change the text, I think.