Greetings from SUNNY Salzburg! Oh how happy I am to be able to say that! This city is simply stunning in the sunshine! May it never go away.
I am happy to report that sizzling electricity pulsed through Bellini's music last night, and my first essay of this wonderful role will be galvanized in my memory for a long time to come. I feel like I just met a new, dear, friend, and I cannot wait to spend more time with her. That may sound a bit strange, but I feel this way when I sing a role for the first time: I never really know this new character until I meet him/her in performance, and with the bit of performing experience I have, I'm all too aware that with the debut undertaking of a new role you barely scratch the surface of finding out who they are, even with all the greatest preparation and intensive rehearsal in the world. The dynamics of performance are so different that nothing can really prepare you for the journey you will take in front of the audience. I know that with each outing I will learn more and more about the character and about how I can meld myself with them. (See - another reason I love the challenges of opera - those never ending possibilities to learn!)
Adalgisa is an astonishing creation. She possesses a very strong moral center, but grapples with her fevered passions - her passion for her God, for her vows, and for the man she loves - who, as tenors are wont to do, serves to complicate things exponentially. Above all, however, she fights for her devotion to Norma. In this she is unwavering. She doesn't waste time bemoaning her fate - she attacks it straight on: "God, protect me in this fight", not "But I love him sooooo. Why can't have him? Pooooooor meeeeee." No - she faces her dilema straight on and fights proactively to salvage her faith. She immediately denounces him when she knows he has betrayed Norma.
The strength of this woman, as the opera moves forward and she comes into her own radiates so strongly, that singing her story is such a joy. I love, for example, when we get to the hit-melody of "Mira, O Norma", which Bellini weaved with such simple perfection, he serves up the same simple vocal line for both, and yet we can hear two completely different emotions emanating from these two women. With Adalgisa, I feel a strong, unwavering, unbroken line of assurance and conviction as she wills Norma to salvage her life, and yet, with the same notes and rhythms, Norma can sound as if she is barely able to stand, completely without strength and faltering with each syllable. One melody, two different stories, two conflicting emotions.
And then? These 2 voices miraculously meld into one and Norma is lifted up and sustained in hope and promise. Sadly, yes, this promise ends in a fiery demise, OK, but for the MOMENT perfection triumphs and all is harmonious in the melodic world of thirds and tag-team coloratura!
Please excuse me, but I must gush and blubber-on for a moment to say what a privilege it was to stand on stage last night with the LEGENDARY Edita Gruberova and have the incredible honor of making music with her. She is a monumental artist and has given this world so much joy and beauty through her singing and artistry, that I had to work extremely hard last night not to simply stand in awe of not only what she has accomplished in her long and storied career, but in the performance she was crafting before my eyes last night. It was a magical night for me as an admirer of hers, and as a musician, to create music on that level next to such a star. Indeed it was a night to remember!
Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I was obviously too preoccupied with my first attack of this role (in such a prestigious venue, no less - AND, as I found out, in what was the premiere performance of "Norma" for the Salzburg Festival!), that my camera did not make an appearance. I hope to make up for it with the 2nd show.
But I wanted to post something....so I have some bug shots from my vacation last week outside of Innsbruck. Yes. Bugs. But, if you'll bear with me, I can connect the dots. But please, at this point, do me a favor and re-read the title of this blog post, as it truly is the worst association of a blog theme with photos. Ever.
OK - here goes nothing:
The colony of worshipers await Norma's arrival on the scene. (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge to get the full benefit of the association!)
She stands before them and spins a perfect bel canto line in her famous aria, "Casta Diva":
In front of her two children, she contemplates murdering them. (My God, who EVER says opera is boring?!?!):
Saving the day, Adalgisa flies onto the scene and convinces Norma to be a better Mother as they sing the hit tune, "Look, Norma":
Oh, that was terrible. But I did spend the most fascinating half hour with this flower watching the traffic of the feeders and I was mesmerized. Which completely grosses me out, because I'm really not a bug person. At all.
Either is Norma, I know, but hey - we have to make do with what we've got, right? Oh no - what have I done? I've surely just inspired some young director in a most perverse way!