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Inner Warmth

Bellini's 'Norma' in Denver,
appreciated by MARIA NOCKIN

 

On the bitterly cold and snowy night of 16 February 2006, Opera Colorado presented Vincenzo Bellini's Norma at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, a brand new venue built specifically for unamplified voices. The temperature outside the hall plummeted to zero degrees Fahrenheit but Denver opera goers are a hardy group and when the curtain rose there were almost no empty seats in the plush, lyre-shaped auditorium.

Hasmik Papian in the title role of Opera Colorado's production of Bellini's 'Norma'. Photo © 2006 P Switzer
Hasmik Papian in the title role of Opera Colorado's production of Bellini's 'Norma'. Photo © 2006 P Switzer

Librettist Felice Romani based his work on a popular Paris play, Norma, ou l'infanticide by Alexandre Soumet, first seen at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in April of 1831. He also drew some material from Francois-René Chateaubriand's 1809 prose poem Les Martyrs. Bellini composed the music between September and December of 1831 and the opera was premièred at La Scala in Milan on 26 December of that year. Only five years later its first performance in North America took place at the St Charles Theater in New Orleans.

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Copyright © 23 February 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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