MDT FEATURE | Italian theatre brings Vincenzo Bellini’s opera ‘Norma’ to town

Vittorio Borrelli (left), Elena Rossi (center) and Sonia Ganassi (right)

Vittorio Borrelli (left), Elena Rossi (center) and Sonia Ganassi (right)

In Roman occupied Gaul, Norma is a powerful Druid priestess who compromises her ideals in the name of love. Upon discovering her lover’s infidelity, Norma’s tragic fate is secured, as another priestess, Adalgisa, had fallen in love with the same man. Their story takes center stage this weekend at the Macau Cultural Centre’s grand auditorium, as Teatro Regio Torino, from Italy, performs this renowned opera by Vincenzo Bellini.
The opera, “Norma,” marks the beginning of the  28th Macau International Music Festival, which kicks off on Friday. Teatro Regio’s artists take the stage on Friday and Sunday, presenting an opera that combines sweet melodies with passionate emotions.
Italian soprano Elena Rossi will be playing Norma, which according to her, is her most difficult role to date, as stated yesterday in a press conference. Norma’s strong character and emotionally tumultuous journey aren’t easy to voice. “Vocally and mentally, it’s a great challenge, because Norma lives with these constant emotions inside her,” said Elena Rossi.
14normaFor the Italian soprano, Norma is not only a powerful woman. What most fascinated her in playing such a character is Norma’s humanist side. “She’s a mother, she’s a friend and she’s a lover.”
Bellini’s musical composition for this opera, she said, is “marvelous,” as it is able to channel pain, love, and enthusiasm. “In the second act, Norma has to think about [the safety] of her own children. I am a mother too, I have a six-year-old daughter and it’s a strong tension we feel throughout the whole opera,” said Elena Rossi.
Sonia Ganassi, an Italian soprano who plays Adalgisa, shared similar thoughts when speaking to reporters yesterday. She too thinks performing an opera such as “Norma” is a great challenge, both vocally and mentally. “It’s a great challenge to keep these feelings inside throughout the whole show. But this opera thrills me,” she said.
Sonia is playing Adalgisa, Pollione’s other lover, with whom he has two children. “As I am playing quite a young character, I had to recover a few memories from my own youth in order to perform,” said Sonia Ganassi, who is deemed one of the greatest mezzo-sopranos of her generation.
Vittorio Borrelli’s, the director of the opera, said “Norma is one of the most precious operas of the Italian repertoire.” He’s hoping that the audience leaves the show touched by at least some of the opera’s emotions.
The conductor of the Macau Orchestra, Lü Jia, will be joining forces with Teatro Regio Torino for the production.
The Macau Cultural Affairs Bureau said that the opera will be performed on an innovative stage, and with a set and costumes designed by William Orlandi, a set designer hailing from Italy.
Teatro Regio Torino was established in 1740 and has since played host to some of the greatest singers and performers, and has also housed world premieres of two of Giacomo Puccini’s masterpieces, Manon Lescaut and La Bohème.
“Norma” will be performed in Italian, with subtitles in Chinese, Portuguese, and English on Friday, October 3, and Sunday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. It lasts approximately two hours and forty-five minutes.
This year’s Macau International Music Festival will feature over 20 shows. From opera to musicals, symphonies, as well as folk and jazz performances, the event will play host to concerts by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra – Russia’s oldest symphony ensemble – as well as a performance by American Laurie Anderson, who was married to Lou Reed.
A Broadway musical is also part of the program. “Hairspray – The Musical” closes this year’s festival with shows on October 29 and November 1.

Elena on stage

The soprano Elena Rossi, studied singing at the Bologna Accademia Filarmonica, thereafter appearing in major Italian and international theatres and distinguished festivals with major operatic rôles. In December 2004 she sang Anne in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste. In 2005 she sang Thérèse in Poulenc’s “Les mamelles de Tirésias” at the Macerata Festival. At the Pisa Teatro Verdi she sang Donna Anna in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and at the Teatro Comunale in Modena made her début as Bella in the world première of Marco Tutino’s “La bella e la bestia”. In 2006 she appeared as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” in major Spanish theatres, winning very great personal success, and she sang in “Die Zauberflöte” (directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi) and “Aida” at the Macerata Sferisterio. In 2012 Elena Rossi played for the first time the role of Mimi in “La Bohème”.

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