Boston Lyric Opera's Shuttered NORMA to Stream For Free Starting Sunday
Boston Lyric Opera's (BLO) General and Artistic Director Esther Nelson and 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston Manager Anthony Rudel announced today that a special audio recording of BLO's final dress rehearsal of Vincenzo Bellini's NORMA will be streamed on www.classicalwcrb.org and www.blo.org starting Sunday, March 29 at 3 PM. Performances of the new production were shuttered before its March 13 opening, due to the virus pandemic.
For this performance, BLO's Orchestra (Concert Master Annie Rabbat) and Chorus (Chorus Master Brett Hodgdon) are conducted by Music Director David Angus. NORMA's high-profile cast includes: internationally acclaimed soprano Elena Stikhina in her title-role debut; tenor Jonathan Burton as Pollione; bass-baritone Alfred Walker as Oroveso; Dedham, MA-based mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy as Adalgisa; BLO Emerging Artist Robyn Marie Lamp as Clotilde; and Emerging Artist alumnus Omar Najmi as Flavio. The recording was made by WCRB's Grammy Award-winning Lead Sound Engineer Antonio Oliart Ros at the production's final dress rehearsal March 11.
"I am grateful to Anthony Rudel and the team at WCRB and WGBH for helping us bring this extraordinary production to Boston and the world," Nelson says. "They responded immediately to our idea to capture the dress rehearsal when it became clear that performances may be in jeopardy. I am equally grateful to our artists and production team for making this unprecedented rehearsal streaming possible. The almost spontaneous teamwork between artistic colleagues and two non-profit institutions is an uplifting example of community spirit."
"As the situation started to change quickly before BLO's final NORMA rehearsal, we got the feeling it might be the only opportunity to capture this beautiful performance and preserve the musical work BLO had done," said Rudel. "What is wonderful, is that the energy of the dress rehearsal provided the excitement and drama you'd feel during a staged production. WCRB and the BLO collaborated on a short timeframe to make this happen - the result is magic."
The audio stream of NORMA will be available for 45 days on both WCRB's and BLO's websites. BLO.org will host related materials to enhance the listening experience, including behind-the-scenes videos of NORMA rehearsals, photos from the final dress rehearsal at which the recording was made, the official NORMA program available for download or online reading, and education materials aimed at helping new listeners learn about the opera.
With a libretto by Bellini's frequent collaborator Felice Romani, and set in first-century BC, NORMA recounts a love triangle among the title character, a powerful Druid priestess, the Roman general Pollione who leads a war against Norma's people, and Adalgisa, a novice priestess and Norma's confidante whom Pollione takes as a lover. The affair between Norma and Pollione ended for fear of reprisal from their followers but resulted in two children, whom she keeps secret. After a Druid uprising against Roman aggression, Norma works to convince Pollione to leave Adalgisa and return to her.