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<<  -- 3 --  Roderic Dunnett    VERGING ON LONDON STANDARDS

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There was disappointment, too, from last year's winning Macduff, the confident young Brazilian tenor Eduardo Itaborahy. Here too was a young Pollione content just to stand and deliver (I nearly said shout), with little sense of personality imported by either singer or director. It can easily happen with the Roman : Mihai Munteanu, the more seasoned Pollione in the Moldovan Opera's very palatable recent touring version, managed only a little better. Forgivable if the notes are there -- but some of Itaborahy's top ones palpably weren't. Add this to the chorus shamblings, some visible weaknesses in make-up, the lack of text, and you could have a problem brewing.

Eduardo Itaborahy as Pollione in the Dorset Opera 2002 production of 'Norma'. Photo : Ikon Studios, Sherborne
Eduardo Itaborahy as Pollione in the Dorset Opera 2002 production of 'Norma'. Photo : Ikon Studios, Sherborne

But several things quickly won us round to this Dorset production. The mixed chorus singing was strong. Norma (the Bayreuth scholarship-winning Karine Babajanyan, recently the Berlin Komische Opera's Manon Lescaut) began with some awkward upward swoops in her flute-launched Cavatina, taken rather slowly, but by the time of her fateful discovery of Pollione's faithlessness, she and the clarinets had us memerised. Patrick Shelley's orchestra soon settled, and from then on all was quality : violas and cellos; sad basses and horns; and all the strings' rising pizzicato for the great Norma-Adalgisa-Pollione trio (Itaborahy markedly better in ensemble), which -- perfectly balanced -- was superb.

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Copyright © 1 December 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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