BelliniÕs ÒNormaÓ brought Winter OperaÕs
12th season to a fine conclusion. The production began with a performance of the overture in
which the orchestra captured both the power and the delicacy of the music. Its playing
and Darwin AquinoÕs conducting were stylish and sympathetic throughout. So was the choral
singing under chorus master Benedetta Orsi. The action of the opera takes place during
a period of conflict between the Romans and the Gauls in the first century BCE.
The Roman proconsul, Pollione, has had a clandestine affair with the Druid hight priestess, Norma,
and together they have two children. While speaking with his adjutant, Pollione admits
that he no longer loves Norma. He is now pursuing Adalgisa, a novice priestess. He urges her
to flee with him to Rome. When Adalgisa confides in Norma, the novice does not realize that
she is revealing to Norma that her lover has betrayed her.
The clever scenic design by Scott Loebl and evocative lighting design by Natali Arco work
together to create the impression of a forest where Druids conduct their rites. This setting
was used effectively in John TruittÕs stage direction. The suggestive set and lighting
also fitted in very well with the impressively representational costume designs by JC Krajicek,
props by Laura Skroska, and wigs and makeup by Jessica Dana.
Christine LyonsÕs Norma encompassed the role in its entirety. As Adalgisa, Benedetta Orsi
displayed the same qualities that earned her a 2018 St. Louis Theater Circle nomination
for her Carmen at Winter Opera. Peter DrackleyÕs portrayal of PolloineÕs emotional arc made
him a sympathetic character when he needed to be, at the end. The Druid high priest,
Oroveso, was an inspirational figure in Neil NelsonÕs portrayal. Grace Fisher as Clotilde
and Thomas Taylor as Flavio handled their brief parts well.
ItÕs a good thing Spring is around the corner. Otherwise, the end of Winter OperaÕs season
would make me even sadder than it does.