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Music by Vincenzo Bellini

Opera North

The Lowry, 29 February 2012

Annemarie Kremer as Norma, axe at the ready.  Photo credit: Alastair Muir

Annemarie Kremer as Norma, axe raised and at the ready. Photo credit: Alastair Muir

There is a slight hint of phallic symbolism present in this quite wonderful production of Bellini’s potent opera.

It is the massive tree-trunk swinging above the stage that’s the giveaway.

When, at the end of Act 1, an axe appears in Norma’s powerful paws you wonder about her malign intentions and fear a little for the men around her, above all for Pollione (Luis Chapa), her lover and the father of her children.  But – thank goodness! – nothing is cut down (or off) that shouldn’t have been.

Some of the arias in the opera are so beautiful as to take your breath away, and the way in which Annemarie Kremer (as Norma, a Druidic princess) and Keri Alkema (as Adalgisa, a priestess) sing and swoon, swoon and sing is spectacular as well as moving.  If you possess even a smidgeon of empathy you’ll be swept away by the intensity of their emotion.

The take-home message is: don’t cheat on a woman who has easy access to an axe.  And a small note, for guidance: druidic princesses would generally fall into this category.

This is the first of two new productions by Opera North, both set in the Ancient World and both featuring ‘strong women’ (are there any other kind?), tour dates are here.