International team with Czech soloists bring Norma´s bel canto to Prague
This coming Friday, October 2 and Sunday, October 4, 2015 the production of Bellini's Norma, which connects an international production team and a cast of Czech soloists will premiere State Opera in Prague. The title role will be performed by Marie Fajtová, in the role of Pollione Ales Briscein and Adalgisa by Jana Horakova Levicova. The Italian conductor Enrico Dovico for whom this Norma is a celebration of twenty years of cooperation with the State Opera took over musical preparation. The stage director is a young Japanese director Tomo Sugao, set designer is Slovak native Boris Kudlička, impressive lighting design prepared by German native Wolfgang Göbbel. The State Opera, or rather New German Theatre premiered Norma only once, in German translation in 1899, where the director was Angelo Neumann, the first theatre director of the former New German Theatre.
For Tomo Sugao Norma is a debut at the Prague opera scene. Among his earlier work, alongside several productions in his native Japan, are Ravel's opera The Child and Magic in Cologne or Robin Hood by contemporary German composer Frank Schwemmer in Zurich. "Norma contains a number of archetypal situations," says Tomo Sugao and continues: "We can find a motif of love for the hated enemy, reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, or the motif of inner conflicted emotions of a betrayed wife with maternal feelings. Additionally, there are many other complex situations intertwined into the whole piece, from which each could become the subject of a master of drama or a blockbuster - like motif of decisions made by people who lead a society, or a motif of two friends who love the same woman and are rivals in love." However, Tomo Sugao considers the music side of Bellini's work the most impressive: "The music that allows us to live through Norma's inner struggle has such power that the audience´s palms nearly sweat. It is nearly impossible to remain calm while listening."
The pre-Verdi bell canto repertoire is represented at the State Opera only with Rossini's The Barber of Seville, also in the musical preparation by Enrico Dovico. The conductor now follows with Bellini's Norma. "The fact that Norma made it into the repertoire of the State Opera is definitely very beneficial for the orchestra, soloists and also for the audience. If you have a variety of music from Mozart to Strauss, this Bellini masterpiece with very precise score is only further enrichment. Norma has extraordinary demands on the soloist and Marie Fajtova, Jana Horakova Levicova and Ales Briscein are very good singers. All three debut in these roles, leaving nothing to chance, working hard and rehearsing with them is very inspiring," says the conductor Enrico Dovico. "The State Opera stood at the beginning of my career, the musicians of the orchestra influenced me greatly and I feel obliged to Prague. I believe that now with Norma I can at least partially repay my debt," says the conductor.
Slovak stage designer Boris Kudlička returns to the State Opera House after the successful staging of Strauss's Salome in October last year. Meanwhile, he created the set of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle in January this year at the Metropolitan Opera in New York or for Juliette by Bohuslav Martinu at the Frankfurt Opera. We will meet the most successful Slovak set designer of his generation again at the end of this season, when he will create the stage design for Strauss's Elektra, directed by Keith Warner.
After the premiere we can hear Bellini's Norma at the State Opera five more times before the end of this season and in a year it will represent Prague and the Czech Republic on tour in Japan.
The next opera premieres of the National Theatre are two titles by Russian composers in one evening: Stravinsky's The Nightingale and Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, musical preparation by English conductor Jan Latham-Koenig and directed by Dominic Benes on the stage of the National Theatre on 22 and 23 October 2015.