Friday, 9 March 2012


Norma at the Lowry was a new one for me.  I'd seen Madama Butterfly before Xmas, so the venue was one I liked (nice staff, great bar placing and great acoustics)

The opera itself conforms to most of the strictures of opera, great songs, great music, some dramatic acting and it ends badly for the woman.  This performance was no exception.

The story is similar to that of Medea, the possibility of killing her own children.  Not a great crowd-pleaser these days, but suitably decadent when it was first performed in 1831.  And no, Norma doesn't kill her own children in this opera, though the temptation at one point is palpable.

The vocal performances by all were exceptional, the musicianship of the orchestra was impeccable.
Bellini wrote fantastic music, Felice Romani wrote a great libretto, what could go wrong?  Very little except the set.  Too subtle for most of the audience around myself.  Druids not in white gowns?  A virgin with two children?  What's that all about?

I'd heartily recommend it for any fan of opera and music, but not for those audience members who expect a  logical narrative, possibly expecting a play with music.

Opera North put a lot of time and effort into the production, much of which seemed to go over the heads of the paying public.  Those I was close to, at least.  For me, a great show, for others, not so much.  Not the fault of Opera North.