A photo of Andrew Haji, Aviva Fortunata, and Annie Rosen in their costumes for Norma
Andrew Haji, Aviva Fortunata, and Annie Rosen in Norma | Photo: Trudie Lee


Fiery, female-led melodrama is a highlight in Calgary Opera’s stellar season

Amy Jo Espetveidt

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Presenting a blockbuster of the bel canto genre, join Calgary Opera for Norma, Vincenzo Bellini’s epic story of a fiery love-triangle set against the backdrop of atmospheric ancient Gaul under Roman occupation.

Conducted by British maestra Alice Farnham and accompanied live by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the production marks the first time Calgary Opera has had a female conductor at the podium for a performance in its main stage series.

The opera centres on two characters who stand on opposite sides of an increasingly tense political stand-off. Norma, a high Druidic priestess and daughter of clan leader Oroveso, has fallen in love with the Roman emissary Pollione. When Norma discovers that Pollione’s affections have strayed to one of her young acolytes, tensions boil over, drawing the two sides closer to all-out war.

Directed by Nicholas Muni, a veteran American opera and musical theatre director who conceptualized and premiered this unique staging with Seattle Opera in 1993, Norma is epic in scope and scale.

Norma is renowned, quite rightly, for its dazzling vocal fireworks as well as its high-intensity drama,” says Calgary Opera’s Artistic Director Bramwell Tovey in a statement. “For the singer portraying Norma, it truly is a career-making role, and we can’t wait to shine a spotlight on the brilliant, Calgary-born Aviva Fortunata who is already making a name for herself the world over.”

Norma runs February 1, 5 and 7, 2020 at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium (1415 14th Ave. NW). All performances are sung in Italian and feature projected English translations.