Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Undercroft Opera Presents Norma

Undercroft Opera presents Bellini tragedy Norma
A fiery love triangle set among ancient, warring planets

(Pittsburgh, PA—November 12, 2013)  Love. Revenge. War. And the masterful music of Vincenzo Bellini propels Norma, a tragic romance, set by Undercroft Opera in ancient times on another planet. Norma, the high priestess of a sacred order and her lover, leader of enemies from a warring planet, ignite a turbulent chain of events.

Charlene Canty and Kelly Lynch (Norma)

Undercroft Opera opens its 2013-2014 season, TALES OF MYTH AND MAGIC, with Norma, Thurs., Fri., and Sat., Nov. 21, 22 and 23 at 7 pm and Sun., Nov. 24 at 2 pm, Seton Center Auditorium, 1900 Pioneer Ave., in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Brookline (15226). Tickets and information at:www.undercroftopera.org. Call 412.422.7919. Admission is $15-38, with discounts for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted at half price. Tickets are on sale atwww.undercroftopera.org and at the door.

Norma is directed by Patrick Brannan and accompanied by the Undercroft Orchestra, conducted by Walter Morales.
Charlene Canty

“Norma depicts an explosive love triangle set in an unfamiliar world,” says Brannan, who is directing his third Undercroft production, after staging Carmen, Barber of Seville, and Susannah for the company.

Norma, high priestess of an ancient sacred order, has secretly broken her vow of chastity for the love of a soldier, Pollione, who happens to be the leader of the enemy's occupying force. The people are calling for war, but Norma urges patience. When Pollione abandons Norma (and their secret children) for another priestess, Adalgisa, Norma swears revenge.

Kelly Lynch

“But something proves stronger than vengeance,” says Brannan, “and Norma's fate propels this bel canto masterpiece to an unbelievable finale.”

"Norma is truly the pinnacle of the bel canto genre,” says Mary Beth Sederburg, Undercroft artistic director. “This is an exciting event because Norma has not been seen by local audiences since Pittsburgh Opera's 1997 production. It has never been attempted by a smaller company in Pittsburgh until now, and boasts not one, but two full casts, a large chorus and full orchestra.

“Not only do we plan to bring Norma back to Pittsburgh audiences,” says Sederburg, “we are taking it to a whole other world. Our production will evoke the ancient world with a sci-fi twist." The production features a multi-level set and laser effects.  A three-dimensional "floating" medallion represents the energy source of Norma and her people.

“We are consulting with Dr. David Snoke, head of the laser lab at the University of Pittsburgh,” Sederburg says.  “He is working with our lighting designer Carolyn Jones, and her assistant Macklin Stanley to create some thrilling effects.”

Norma is sung by Kelly Lynch and Charlene Canty. Diana Cantrelle and Mary Beth Sederburg sing the role of Adalgisa, a priestess and Norma’s companion who is wooed by Pollione. Pollione, the Roman proconsul in Gaul who leaves Norma for Adalgisa, is sung by Robert Frankenberry and Seth Gruber.
The cast also includes: Milutin Lazich and Jonathan Stuckey as Oroveso, Norma’s father; Jessica Spafford as Clotilde, Norma’s friend; and William Strom as Flavio, Pollione’s companion.

The artistic team includes: Chorus Master - Ben Filippone; Rehearsal Accompanist/Vocal Coach – Lucas Barkley; Stage Manager – Dennis Robinson; Set Designer – Christine Lee; Lighting Designer – Carolyn Jones; Costume Designer - Robin Geisler; Surtitles Engineer – Sean G. Donaldson; Technical Director – Neil Sederburg.

A tragedia lirica in two acts, Norma was composed by Vincenzo Bellini with libretto by Felice Romani after Norma, ossia L'infanticidio (Norma, or The Infanticide) by Alexandre Soumet. First produced at La Scala on December 26, 1831, it is generally regarded as an example of the supreme height of thebel canto tradition. "Casta diva" is one of the most familiar arias of the nineteenth century. The title role is generally considered one of the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. It calls for tremendous vocal control of range, flexibility, and dynamics. It contains a wide range of emotions: conflict of personal and public life, romantic life, maternal love, friendship, jealousy, murderous intent, and resignation.

Undercroft Opera exclusively showcases local talent in traditional operatic productions. The vision of Undercroft, founded in 2006, is to provide Pittsburgh area singers and instrumentalists with an artistic outlet and a greater sense of community, while giving Pittsburgh audience members the opportunity to discover and experience the operatic talent that is literally in their own backyard.

The TALES OF MYTH AND MAGIC season continues with Undercroft Opera’s production of Mozart’s charming adventure The Magic Flute, sung in English, May 29-June 1, 2014 at Antonian Theatre, Carlow University, 3333 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Conducted by Walter Morales and Directed by Patrick Brannan, sorcery and symbolism are the backdrop for this enchanting love story.

www.undercroftopera.org               E-mail: Info@undercroftopera.org            
FACEBOOK:  Undercroft Opera        Call:  412.422.7919

Photo Credit:  Rebecca Antal

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