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 Bellini's Norma


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden,  September 12 - October 8, 2016

Photographs by Bill Cooper, courtesy of the Royal Opera House


Bellini has notched up three different productions of Norma in Britain this year: an original production at the English National Opera (see here), a restaging of the Salzburg production as part of the Edinburgh Festival (see here) and now this one at Covent Garden, in a joint production with the Opéra National de Paris. It was originally planned as a vehicle for Anna Netrebko but she withdrew earlier this year to be replaced by Sonya Yoncheva.

The reception in some questers was ecstatic. Michael Tanner in The Spectator wrote that "Sonya Yoncheva is sensational in Royal Opera’s triumphant new Norma".  Others were more equivocal.  Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph (September 13, 2016) temperised with "Sonya Yoncheva could become one of the most commanding Normas of our time" seeing hers as a work in progress, which was hardly surprising given the comparatively late scheduling and that this was her first attempt at the role. He particularly liked Joseph Calleja's Pollione, although was less taken with Sonia Ganassi's Adalgisa.

No one seemed over enthusiastic about the staging which updated the work to show the Gauls as some kind of militant religious sect framed within in a forest of crucifixes that towered up to the top of the stage, "striking but perverse" thought Tim Ashley in The Guardian  (September 13, 2016) .

The Royal Opera hosted an insight night for the opera that can be seen at


The Team 

Norma - Sonya Yoncheva

Pollione - Joseph Calleja

Adalgisa - Sonia Ganassi

Oroveso - Brindley Sherratt

Flavio - David Junghoon Kim

Clotilde - Vlada Borovko



Conductor - Antonio Pappano

Director - Àlex Ollé

Set Designer - Alfons Flores

Costumes - Lluc Castells

Lighting - Marco Filibeck




© Bill Cooper

Norma and chorus





© Bill Cooper

Norma addressing the people





© Bill Cooper

Norma and Adalgisa





© Bill Cooper

Norma looking to kill her children






© Bill Cooper

Orevoso with his prisoner Pollione






© Bill Cooper

Pollione being questioned by Norma






© Bill Cooper

Oroveso, Norma and Pollione


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