Tag Archives: Bel Canto

Norma Sneak Peek

https://youtu.be/TVdSSWB5-Nk

Get a sneak peek of Norma above

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Norma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6oGBJbok64

Norma is the go-to opera to hear what the masterful, operatic voice can do. Yet, there’s so much more to this show than the voices. There’s an interesting directorial vision thanks to Anne Bogart, a classic take on the bel canto movement, and cast members that truly define what it means to be a great opera singer. In case you’ve missed the Norma love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why Norma is so captivating.

Get To Know Norma

The cast of Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

The cast of Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

Norma War and Peace at Last

Norma is more than just a love story. It’s also an opera about the cross between the political and the personal , all showcased in the title character’s struggles.

Directing Norma

Norma is arguably Vincenzo Bellini’s masterpiece. It’s a vocal fireworks of an opera, where singers utilize every tactic in their vocal range to express the deepest of emotions: love. Director Anne Bogart and designer Neil Patel understand this implicitly. Their Norma is a version that removes the frippery, “the spectacle of the mis en scene” and in turn fuels the vocal energy at the core of Bellini’s storytelling.

Norma’s Girl Power Playlist

Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma is arguably the ultimate girl power opera, with a fiery and dramatic plot that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. To help everyone get in an empowering mood, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 girl-power anthems for you to listen to until the opening night of Norma this Saturday. Here’s a list of 10 stellar girl power songs.

Drop The Mic: Norma’s A Vocal Fireworks Opera

As I write this, Angela Meade, Jamie Barton, and Russell Thomas are on-stage rehearsing a scene from our upcoming production of Bellini’s Norma. It’s the end of Act I and Norma (Meade) has just discovered the affair between the man she loves, Pollione (Thomas), and Adalgisa (Barton), a younger priestess. If you think the story’s dramatic, you should hear their voices! Unbelievable voices – let’s call them vocal fireworks because of their equally explosive and yet restrained nature – are at the center of Norma. It’s compelling to witness.

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Drop The Mic: Norma’s A Vocal Fireworks Opera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WnPpQdshQI

As I write this, Angela Meade, Jamie Barton, and Russell Thomas are on-stage rehearsing a scene from our upcoming production of Bellini’s Norma. It’s the end of Act I and Norma (Meade) has just discovered the affair between the man she loves, Pollione (Thomas), and Adalgisa (Barton), a younger priestess. If you think the story’s dramatic, you should hear their voices! Unbelievable voices – let’s call them vocal fireworks because of their equally explosive and yet restrained nature – are at the center of Norma. It’s compelling to witness.

Why?

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015)

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

You can literally feel their voices vibrate through the space, giving you goosebumps. It’s a heroic vocal energy that only opera singers possess and share with the world. While Norma is known as an opera lover’s opera, for the opera novice it showcases the beauty of the operatic voice. It reminds you that this art form is built on its power, and this cast’s voices are beyond. The combination of Meade’s soprano, Barton’s mezzo-soprano, and Thomas’ tenor voices surround you lovingly throughout this bel canto opera (learn more about bel canto here).

As I was reminded during last week’s Piano Dress Rehearsal, opera singers aren’t amplified. In other words, there are no microphones like you’d find at a rock concert. It’s these powerful voices that are blowing the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion roof off. (Oh, and it’s not an El Niño either…I checked.)

Check out this short clip of Angela Meade discussing how demanding Norma is vocally:

https://youtu.be/dYRyWwiuTG4

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Let’s Talk Bel Canto Baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVdSSWB5-Nk

Lucia di Lammermoor. The Elixir of Love. Norma. What’s one major thing these masterpiece operas have in common? They are all part of the “bel canto” tradition of early 19th-century Italian opera. “Bel canto” directly translates into “beautiful singing,” but the movement is so much more than the beautiful arias that define it.

Norma; Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Norma; Photo: Ken Howard

The titans of bel canto – Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioachino Rossini – composed music that requires performers to have a number of vocal skills at their command: full, rich and even vocal tone; smooth, fluid musical phrasing; and tremendous vocal agility (the ability to sing a lot of fast-moving notes in a single phrase). These abilities come more naturally to some singers than to others, but even for those gifted singers who were born for bel canto, it still takes a lot of hard work in the rehearsal room to make it sound effortless. The words we use to describe bel canto may sound like gibberish if you don’t study voice, but I can promise you that the difference is quite clear. Check out Maria Callas performing “Casta diva” from Norma below and then contrast it with a non-bel canto piece: Birgit Nilsson singing “Allein, weh ganz, allein” (an early 20th-century German aria with vastly different vocal challenges) from Richard Strauss’s Elektra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aFaEkvwO2w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsNAWbslCGo

Still hungry for more information on bel canto? We’ve collected some great reference material to give you a taste of the bel canto movement below, including our top 5 bel canto operas to know.

Bel Canto: Audiences Love It, but What Is It? – via The New York Times

New York Times Chief Music Critic Anthony Tommasini discusses the history of the bel canto we know and love.

Talk Like an Opera Geek: Savoring The Bel Canto Sound – via NPR Music

It’s easy for opera fans to toss around the term “bel canto.” It’s much harder to actually define it. Literally, bel canto means “beautiful singing” in Italian, but it’s so open-ended that it’s come to mean anything from the lyrical trend in Roman cantatas from the 1640s to any particularly lovely snippet of vocalizing from any era. And then there’s the inverse of bel canto — “can belto” — a handy put-down to be flung at any singer who just stands and barks.

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Music Monday: Norma’s “Casta diva”

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

“Casta diva” from Bellini’s Norma is one of the most recognizable soprano arias, found in pop culture from many soundtrack appearances (Mildred Pierce, anyone?) and legendary renditions by the likes of Maria Callas (see below), Joan Sutherland, and Beverly Sills. Norma takes place on a Druid temple mountaintop during the Roman occupation of Gaul. It follows the heartbreak of Druid priestess Norma, who unbeknownst to her followers, fell in love and has two children with Pollione, the leader of the Roman forces. The Druids call for her to declare war on the Romans. Yet, Norma does not want to destroy the man she loves. During “Casta diva,” she prays to the Goddess for peace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rjGwS20V94

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Vocal Fireworks: Angela Meade on Singing Norma

https://youtu.be/dYRyWwiuTG4

Watch Angela Meade Chat About Singing Norma

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A Night in the Life of Angela Meade

https://youtu.be/4WnPpQdshQI

What A Night in the Life of Angela Meade above

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