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Show Review: LA Opera Norma at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

When the average person thinks of opera, one envisions towering men with deep voices and rotund women in ornate dresses screeching at pitches only dogs can hear.  Last Saturday, Rose and Chris witnessed this stereotype in the flesh when they went to the LA Opera’s opening night of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma. 

Angela Meade, who starred in the title role, stole the show with her impressive performance in this challenging part.  Demanding incredible range, strong technical skills, and powerhouse vocal cords, the role of Norma presents many opportunities for sub-par singing for anyone besides Meade: her voice danced through all of the complex melismas and journeyed to both edges of her range, while still conveying the wide spectrum of emotions of pain, betrayal, indecision, elation, and resignation.  Meade teams up with Jamie Barton, playing Adalgisa in her LA Opera debut, for a perfectly executed duet in the beginning of Act II.  While the female leads are clearly the highlight of the production, Russell Thomas in the role of Pollione and Morris Robinson as Oroveso give an acceptable performance in the other lead roles.  

Meade and Barton’s voices far exceeded expectations, which made up for the lack of visual stimulation in the set and costumes.  The simple, static aesthetic does not compare to the over-the-top visual design of past LA Opera productions.  While the austere set and costumes fit the context and tone of the opera, staring at a gray stage filled with plainly dressed people for three hours was not exactly the most engaging endeavour for non-opera buffs like ourselves.  However, the virtuosic singing and perfect playing from the orchestra more than made up for this deficiency, and overall, I would highly recommend seeing the LA Opera’s rendition of Norma at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, showing until December 13.

ROSE CAMPION, HEAD OF ACCOUNTING
WAM, Sundays at 8 pm