Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mira Norma, Paulina Pfeiffer steals the show

We're being really spoiled this January in Paris. Tonight (errr... last night - January 18), we had one more premiere: this time it was a brand new production of Norma in Théâtre du Châtelet.

The director, Peter Mussbach, threw in a clever concept to make this mediocre libretto acceptable to the 21st century audience. He, of course, got booed at the end by the crowd of belcanto aficionados. Like I always say,  good theater shakes up habits and it must be booed by some :)

Apart from the clever staging, a big winner of the evening was Paulina Pfeiffer, yet another superbly singing Swede who we discovered tonight in a wonderful Adalgisa. Next big dramatic mezzosoprano to follow! Lina Tetriani also stands out with her well sung and convincing Norma.

Mussbach set Norma in a cubically shaped psychiatric ward, in which the moon-worshiping loons are calmed by the huge sphere which provides the spatial equilibrium - just like in the famous series of paintings by René Magritte. Once the ball is set in motion the equilibrium is broken and the ward inhabitant become agitated. In that silvery world, it is a golden-looking Pollione who push the ball first and our opera can take off... There are many ideas which fluctuate around this fil rouge and it all works wonderfully. The lights help to tune the atmosphere (Mussbach team always does it right), and then to unfold the libretto which now becomes fully plausible and not at all ludicrous (like it is the case in any standard staging of Norma).

Lina Tetriani is maybe not the most memorable Norma you've listened to, but she sings it bravely and honestly: it is a tough role to sing and she gave her best. Much more powerful than I expected her to be, and most of the role she sings effortlessly. Kudos to her!  Oroveso was sung by Wojtek Smilek, because Nicolas Testé is under the weather and was able to assure only the acting part. Nikolai Schukoff is a correct Pollione; it is far from the quality of Andrew Richards who I listened to in Munich past summer, but it is not bad either. Finally a sensational Adalgisa  by our new fave [I know I have'em way too many ;)] Paulina Pfeiffer.

The choir was very messy at the beginning but improved as the show went on. The orchestra [Ensemble Matheus] also started quite badly but managed to reach an acceptable level by the middle of first act. In act 2 they were much better. Jean-Christophe Spinosi was loudly booed.

See 5min long video of intro to this production by Peter Mussbach on the Châtelet website. You may also check out this website where a short video review of the final dress rehearsal is available.

Below are several pics I took tonight at the prima.

Nikolai Schukoff, Lina Tetriani  and Paulina Pfeiffer

Paulina Pfeiffer

Team Mussbach 

That's all folks

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