Lyric Opera of Chicago 2016-17 Preview: Sondra Radvanovsky Takes on ‘Norma’

By David Salazar

The Lyric Opera of Chicago continues its 2016-17 season in a big way when it showcases Bellini’s masterful “Norma” on its stage this Saturday.

The production will feature Sondra Radvanovsky, who has dominated the title role all around the world. Conductor Riccardo Frizza recently told OperaWire that working with Radvanovsky on this role is a revelation because she is “fully committed and serious artist… She is always looking to dig deeper and deeper. It is an honor to work with her.”

Elizabeth DeShong takes on the role of Adalgisa while OperaWire Artist of the Week Russell Thomas makes his Chicago debut as Pollione. Andrea Silvestrelli rounds out the cast as Oroveso while Frizza conducts.

The run starts on the 28th and lasts until the 24th of February, a total of seven performances.

The Opera

“Norma” is arguably the most popular of Bellini’s operas, the libretto his most cohesive and “Casta Diva” arguably the most famous of all his arias. The title role of Norma is frequently cited as the most difficult in the entire soprano repertoire. The work also features a popular duet between soprano and mezzo soprano as well as a recognized trio to end the first act.

Popular Recordings

Those interested in seeing what Radvanovsky has to offer in the work can take a look at her performance at the Liceu though for starters, there is arguably no recording as iconic as Maria Callas’ with Tullio Serafin at the podium. This recording is widely viewed as the landmark and Callas’ interpretation is the one many see as the definitive version of the role. The recording also features Franco Corelli as Pollione and Christa Ludwig singing Adalgisa.