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James A. Altena
Fanfare, May 2018

Sonya Yoncheva is in many ways an impressive Norma. She has the beauty of tone, stamina, and technical agility to negotiate this famously treacherous role, and is a reasonably good interpreter. …Joseph Calleja is the Pollione of the current hour, a complete master of his part in every way. If not as impressively stentorian as Mario del Monaco or even Franco Corelli, he has ample vocal resources for his role and sings with absolute security, burnished and ringing tone, and intelligent inflection of his lines. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review




Patrick Dillon
Opera News, May 2018

BELLINI, V.: Norma [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2016) (NTSC) OA1247D
BELLINI, V.: Norma [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2016) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7225D

Joseph Calleja brings his uniquely beautiful timbre and easy command of style to Pollione—as well as some uncertainly pitched high notes in his Act I cabaletta. He also acts with conviction. Sonia Ganassi is a long-practiced, vocally adept Adalgisa. A decade senior to both her Norma and her Pollione.

Antonio Pappano conducts a smart, taut account of what’s hardly a conductor’s opera and incidentally supplies, amid the bonus content, one of the release’s pleasures—his charmingly tone-deficient singing of snippets of “Casta diva” and “Ah, bello a me ritorna.” © 2018 Opera News Read complete review



Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, March 2018

…the conducting, playing and choral singing are top notch. Antonio Pappano’s name is not one you might automatically associate with bel canto, but this is the most dramatic of Bellini’s scores, and it suits his instincts very well. He also appears in a couple of short extra films, and he showcases again why he is such a great evangelist for opera, as well as a brilliantly gifted educator. The orchestra bounce along lightly, and the chorus make a wonderful sound throughout. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Neil Fisher
Gramophone, January 2018

BELLINI, V.: Norma [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2016) (NTSC) OA1247D
BELLINI, V.: Norma [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2016) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7225D

Conducting, Antonio Pappano is in typically robust form.

Calleja is in good voice, a generous and graceful singer who generates genuine pathos. …[Sonia Ganassi] duets with Yoncheva with ardour… © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2017

Covent Garden’s first new production of Bellini’s Norma for more than thirty years, brought last year’s controversial view of the work from the Director, Alex Olle. Now updated to modern times it strikes a raw nerve in the very difficult present-day world where fanatical religious societies threaten our existence. Into that world comes Norma, Pollione and Adalgisa, and we have the making of a love triangle that has to exist within the trials and tribulations of an occupied country. Pollione, at the centre of the triangle and head of the occupying army, proves to be a vacillating character that is self-destructing and ends with his and Norma’s execution. Whether you enjoy Olle’s view is going to be a matter of personal taste, as the polarised opinions of London’s major opera critics were to demonstrate. Then again those of us who come from a previous generation will recall the imperious Maria Callas on stage at Convent Garden back in 1957, which was one of Covent Garden’s greatest achievements. That is something the Bulgarian soprano, Sonya Yoncheva, cannot visually emulate, though her vocal acrobatics in the first act aria, Casta Diva, hits the centre of every note, and as the opera progresses, she does convincingly portray the fact that she was a human Priestess who could experience love and grief. Vocally Joseph Calleja is an ideal and excellent Pollione, though he hardly looks the character of a regional ruler, or the romantic lover of two women. As is so often the case, it is the Adalgisa who captures our sympathy, and here we have the much experienced Italian mezzo, Sonia Ganassi, in fine voice, particularly in the second scene of the first act, when the two women discover they love the same man. Looking the part of Norma’s ageing father, Brindley Sharratt does need more vocal weight, and from the back of the stage his voice does not carry well. Antonio Pappano secures exceptionally fine playing and singing from the orchestra and chorus of Covent Garden, but the problem throughout, and it is a major one, is the microphone placing that is not helpful, and the vast dynamic changes required my volume control close by me. From a filming point it is fairly well handled, the camera work a little slanted towards close-ups of the singer’s teeth. There is, of course, multi-lingual subtitles, and the disc also comes in standard DVD format on OA1247D. A Norma for the Twenty-first century. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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