Greek opera house set to stage ‘Norma’

Norma – the diva role immortalized by Maria Callas – returns to the National Opera Theater this week. The celebrated opera by Vincenzo Bellini is scheduled to go on stage at the Olympia theater tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday and then again on March 10 and 14. The composer’s penultimate oeuvre, «Norma» opened for the very first time in Milan’s La Scala in 1831 – the first performance being a spectacular flop. The second rendition, however, turned out to be a huge success, leading Norma to worldwide fame and recognition as the ill-fated Druid priestess who falls in love with a Roman proconsul. Though a well-traveled work, the opera is not frequently performed; it requires an exceptional, versatile soprano voice. Following the success of Bellini’s «Sonnanbula,» «Norma» was followed by «I Puritani,» the latter being the last work of the composer’s works. He died in Paris in 1835 at the age of 34. At the National Opera, the musical direction is by Angelo Cavallaro, stage direction by Yiannis Karahisaridis, stage and costume design by Andonis Halkias and choir direction by Fani Palamidi. Sopranos Martha Arapi and Tzeni Drivala alternate in the leading role. Also alternating are Vangelis Hadzisimos and Dimitris Stefanou in the role of Pollione, Dimitris Kavrakos and Christoforos Stamboglis as Oroveso and Irini Karayianni and Mary-Ellen Nezi as Adalgisa. National Opera, Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.1516.