Norma

 

Bellini Norma opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2016 by Àlex Ollé at the Royal Opera House. Stars Sonya Yoncheva (Norma), Joseph Calleja (Pollione), Sonia Ganassi (Adalgisa), Brindley Sherratt (Oroveso), David Junghoon Kim (Flavio), and Vlada Borovko (Clotilde). Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus (Concert Master Peter Manning). Set design by Alfons Flores; costume design by Lluc Castells, lighting design by Marco Filibeck. Directed for screen by Jonathan Haswell. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

This is the production where Anna Netrebko was to sign Norma's role for the first time; when she pulled out, Sonya Yoncheva stepped in to sing it for her first time. Neil Fisher, writing in the January 1018 Gramophone at page 86, approves of Yoncheva, Calleja as Pollione, and Pappano in the pit. Fisher was less enthusiastic about the directing of Àlex Ollé (fixated on "the crushing nature of fundamentalist religion"), the mise-en-scène (fixated on crucifixes), and the supporting singers (fixated on making the show go on). Patrick Dillon, writing in the May 2018 Opera News at pages 54-55 was even more critical stating "this hyperreligious Norma is an unholy mess." He admires Yoncheva for pluck but complains she can only deliver half a Norma due to problems in the higher register with "flatness, sourness, blasting, and inability to really float the sound."

Here's Yoncheva's "Casta Diva":

And here's a long (83 min.) and well-done explanation of this production from Pappano, director Àlex Ollé, and others: