Norma at Unter den Linden
February 29, 2008
* Notes *
The Opernphrenologe went to Berlin for work, and managed to see this evening's performance of Norma at the Staatsoper. Annegret Ritzel's production was awful from the very beginning when the female chorus first pretended to be rocks and then proceded to crawl to a tree stump in the center. The choreography was poorly motivated, at one point in Act I, all of the members of the women's chorus took off their overshirts, showed off their arms, sang a bit, and then put their overshirts back on. Then in Act II, the men did essentially the same thing, but they just wore trouser straps. Katharina Eberstein's costumes were mostly of a dark palette, with the exception of the priestesses in white, who wore headdresses that were reminiscent of bloody tampons.
Paolo Arrivabeni's conducting was unimaginative, and the orchestra seemed did not seem engaged. The drums were off in the screeching overture. The Opernphrenologe particularly loathed soprano Silvana Dussmann in the title role, though she was much beloved by a majority of the audience. She sounded like cracked porcelain, and was flat a good deal of the time. Carmen Oprisanu, however, was pretty good as Adalgisa. Tenor Andrew Richards' voice proved to be nice and warm once he got over a rough start.
After tormenting the Opernphrenologe all about the details of the opera performance, I finally commented that she must have liked it. Apparently she did and was moved most by the narrative rather than Bellini's music.
* Tattling *
The house was filled with young people, and our Opernphrenologe was right next to a young lady (Seat 14 Row 3 in the middle of the second balcony) who insisted on instant messaging on her cellphone, until the man behind her told her to stop. After that she kept on fidgeting and whispering, but at least she moved elsewhere for the second half.