Magazine article Opera Canada

L'Opera De Montreal

Magazine article Opera Canada

L'Opera De Montreal

Article excerpt

Bellini's Norma can look a little musty to opera newcomers, but the season-opening L'Opera de Montreal performance attended nicely to the vocal and visual demands of the piece and made it seem equal to the tastes of a new century. Sets were on loan from the Metropolitan Opera, and therefore left in pre-Christian, Roman-occupied Gaul. But the Druidic furnishings had a clean, designer look, and stage director Stephen Pickover created a modern blend of freeze-frame tableaux and realistic exchanges. As led from the pit by OdeM artistic director Bernard Labadie, the score had momentum and logic as well as vocal beauty.

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Many thanks go to Hasmik Papian in the title role. "Casta Diva" was warm and soft. But, like most Normas, this Armenian soprano was most satisfying when she sang openly and without a self-conscious need to seduce her listeners. Her reflections on the ethics of infanticide set a high standard of tonal clarity and dramatic realism. …

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