Photo: Christofer Zagal

When Bellini’s energetic overture has faded, the music and the entire orchestra literally rise to the ceiling, and the notes evoke a harrowing triangle drama. At the Folkoperan, the Medea-like story has been stripped of all its trappings, leaving Norma’s bottomless rage and despair over Pollione’s betrayal. In Eirik Stubø’s minimalist and concise direction, the delicate voices of the two singing teams are filled with complexity and emotional nuances, and Norma becomes a timeless story of betrayal, jealousy and the painful and intoxicating passion of man.

Motivation of the selection jury

Theatre director Eirik Stubø makes his Swedish debut as an opera director with Bellini’s Norma – one of the most powerful love triangles in opera literature. Deep characterisation, orchestral music played on period instruments and new ways for the singers to engage with the Bel canto tradition make this production extraordinary.

Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 opera Norma is the jewel of the Italian bel canto tradition, associated with beautiful sound and technical singing skills. The Arian Casta Diva from Norma has become known as a litmus test for sopranos and became iconic when opera singer Maria Callas took it on in the 1950s. The lyrical music alternates between pompous hubris and grandeur, proximity and abyss. At its premiere, the opera was seen as innovative and revolutionary, as Bellini put the word and the action at the centre.

Folkoperan’s musical director Henrik Schaefer matches Stubø’s present character direction by exploring how Bellini’s music can grow musically while making room for the drama. By having the orchestra play on period instruments and opening up new ways for the singers to take on the Bel canto tradition, we search for that special sound that we believe Bellini wanted to hear.

Directed by Eirik Stubø
Set and costume design Magdalena Åberg
Light Ellen Ruge
Mask & wig Therésia Frisk
Music Vincenzo Bellini
Libretto Felice Romani
Translation Tuvalisa Rangström, Marie Lundquist
Musical arrangement Henrik Schaefer
Starring Norma, Julia Sporsén|Kajsa Lindberg, Adalgisa, Ann-Kristin Jones|Susanna Wolff Pollione, Daniel Svenson|Per Lindström, Oroveso, Johan Schinkler|Joel Kyhle, Clotilde (Norma’s confidante), Rebecka Elsgard, Flavio, (Pollione’s friend), Mattias Gunnari, Norma’s and Pollione’s two children, David Francett, Kevin Gonzalez, Daniel Koydan Tyapkin, Sam Larsson Herrgård, Marley Norstad, Alexander Sherwood.

Folk Opera Choir
Arash Azarbad, Rebecka Elsgard, Mattias Gunnari, John Haque, Joel Kyhle, Ulrika Nilsson, Sara Norrback Carlsson, Viktor Rydén, Miriam Ryen, Alice Störholt, Jenny Viklund, Anders Werner.
Folk Opera Orchestra conductors, Henrik Schaefer/Maria Itkonen/Sofia Winiarski

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