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Bellini: Norma [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Steiger, Hasmik Papian, Giorgio Giuseppini, Hugh Smith, Irini Tsirakidis
  • Directors: Misjel Vermeiren
  • Format: Classical, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Castilian, Italian, Dutch
  • Dubbed: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: BBC / Opus Arte
  • Release Date: Sept. 30 2008
  • Run Time: 188 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B001BSH19S

Product Description

New And Sealed !!! European zone (Region B2)

Customer Reviews

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By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on Dec 1 2013
Format: Blu-ray
I came to this Opera through sort of a back door. I was watching a documentary on Maria Callas. And several times he mentioned that she played Norma. Somehow I had overlooked this Opera so I thought I would catch up. This was the only version that was readily available I thought Norma is Norma is Norma.

I can see now that I made a small mistake. In general I don't like things that are in modern dress. But again I thought normal is Norma was Norma. I waited for them speak when they did I sort of wish they didn't. I have to confess I was using English subtitles. The production never got any better. It just drag on and on and on.

One day I hope to look at a different version and see what it is that Norma that makes it a classic as this version was the drag of all times.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
not what I had expected but in the end - very good! Nov. 8 2008
By John Chandler - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I was unprepared for the presentation and was initially irritated by the opening which brings ancient Rome backstage of a modern opera house. It all looked as if I was in for another of these modern and all too often pretentious productions. (I am generally a traditionalist and prefer to see what the composer would have had in mind). I had not done any home work and had not grasped what the producer was up to. The playing and singing is however exceptional and as the disc progressed I forgot my initial dislike and came to enjoy it more and more. This is an excellent disc, but go to the extras BEFORE you watch the opera. You will then avoid my mistake and be able to follow the production so much better. This is not the traditional Norma but neither is it the dreaded 'dinner suits on an empty stage'. The blend is quite skillful and once one accepts the revised plot the disc can be fully enjoyed. My initial reaction was to send it back, I will now keep it and expect to watch it many times. Get it, it is visually and sonically outstanding.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Norma-----------NOT! Jan. 22 2007
By P. Byrne - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Avoid this ridiculous "Concept" Norma at all costs, unless you want to plunk down nearly $40.00 for what is the most tired, trite staging of this magnificent opera I have ever seen. Don't the Euro-Trash directors have any new ideas? More of the same old 1950 period costumes with Norma making an entrance dressed like Norma Desmond with a turban and sunglasses, signing autographs for the Druid chorus.The stage business is completely ludicrous, and reduces the magnificent music to a meaningless side show.The cast all have beautiful voices and certainly deserve a better staging than this psuedo-arty nightmare..

Patrick C. Byrne
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A terrible concept, yet again! Aug. 31 2008
By P. Byrne - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
This is that ridiculous Norma dvd from a couple of years ago, yet again. Changing the package, and the technology is not going to make it any better. Another "concept" on a masterpiece. This time we are backstage with the singers, making entrances and exits. None of it makes any sense. Norma makes her first entrance done up like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. What has that to do with anyting in the libretto? From there it is downhill. If the singing were great, maybe, but it isn't. Why bother. Get the Caballe Normas from Orange or Barcelona.Magnificent. When I first ordered this mess I played it several times to see if it had some redeeming factors. I sold it online for $10.00.

Patrick Byrne
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing - spoiled by odd mish/mash of costuming Oct. 2 2009
By Mr. John A. Coulson - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The mish mash of modern and traditional costuming in this opera is very distracting and spoiled enjoyment of the opera for me. Norma in priestess robe singing to a Roman soldier in a blue striped suit, idiotic and unecessary props like modern kitchen chairs and dressing tables with photos plastered on the mirror, all seem totally unecessary for the plot. One person has sarcastically labelled this all too common trend in modern opera productions as "Eurotrash". Much as I dislike the connotation, I must admit that it applies to this production. A shame because their is some beautiful singing from Hasmic Papian and Irini Tsirakidis although not all support roles were impressive. Another peculiarity, which I noted in a couple of other Blue Ray opera productions, was an uneveness in the volume of the voices at times plus a strange echo which appeared to be in the stage as it disappeared when the curtain dropped.
For once I looked at the "extras" before viewing the main event but they failed in preparing me for the odd approach to the opera with the Druits sometimes in casual modern dress but other times dressed up in the sort of religious garb appropriate for the context of the story. In summary, perplexing and confusing.
So, overall I cannot fully recommend this disc. Like the curates egg, it is bad in parts and sadly, there are too many of these.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Re-interprets Bellini's opera: an insulting stinker of a concept Nov. 6 2006
By Niel Rishoi - Published on
Format: DVD
Oh, you're gonna love this one. Let's see here if I can do

justice to this spellbinding mess, and sort out the story

behind the story behind the story, the disaster behind the

disaster within another disaster.

We learn from the opening shots that this production is

going to endeavor to make Bellini's masterpiece "more

interesting." To improve upon it. During the overture, we

see a Pavarotti-type tenor dressed in a faintly 1940s

gangsterish suit come out onto a stage. The stage has black

shiny-mirror-enameled floors, with a huge fallen tree

across it. The tenor positions himself in front of a

dressing-room makeup table with lighted mirror, sets his

crested helmet down, and sits in front of the table. He

pulls out from his bag a Madonna figurine (not the pop

star), kisses it, sets it on the table. He picks up a

magazine, a "Il Mondo Dell Opera," with himself on the

cover, and looks delghtedly through it. He decides to have

some coffee and spills it all over the table, whereby he

cleans it up. A severe-dressed stage assistant smilingly

brings out his gilded six-pack abs breast/torso plate,

along with a dozen roses; they kissy-kissy. He generously

shows her his magazine. She climbs onto his lap and they

start making out. A male figure - director? - comes in,

as she makes her exit. They pantomime chortle to each other

- ooh, that's one hot chick they seem to be saying. The

assistant gives the tenor a newspaper - Il Giornale - the

tenor looks at it anxiously, and slams the paper back,

scratches his forehead anxiously. Another hatted, spiffily

dressed gentlemen - the Oroveso - comes in, sets HIS stuff

down on another dressing table, in front of the tree. The

three commiserate over the newspaper. The Oroveso takes his

score out, sets it on the the fallen tree trunk, and starts

studying it. Overture ends.

The chorus, in their civilian clothes come out, and begin

milling around behind the tree. The Pollione takes his

roses and sets them over at yet another dressing table.

The Oroveso, in full 1940s civilian clothes and overcoat,

lifts his leg up, sets his foot on the fallen tree, places

his score on his knee, and begins singing "Ite sul colle."

Nice, solid tone. The chorus, dressed in dapper civilian

clothes, many with roses in their hands, places them around

the center dressing table. Pollione, as the chorus exits,

reads the cards on the roses, anxious as to who they're

from. The Flavio comes out, in full 1950s Gladiator Gear,

and he and Pollione proceed with their scene. The tenor

sings "Meco all'tar di Venere" with a bright, loud, bugly

tone. The high C kicks in after a slight hiccup. Lots of

extraneous stage business. Just before his cabaletta, the

chorus comes out, and Pollione begins changing into his

costume. One verse of the caba-clatter-etta. Choked high


For Norma's entrance. The chorus, standing behind the tree.

They start clapping, applauding. Flashbulbs go off. A

prima donna figure, complete with shiny silver raincoat,

head-crown-turban, Lana Turner styled sunglasses, fur

stole, comes in, delighted at the reception. Starts signing

autographs. Walks grandly over to her dressing table,

unloads her gear, gets undressed, assistant helps her with

a red Classical Norma gown. Admires her roses.

"Rehearsal" gets under way, with "Sediziose voci." During

Oroveso's interlude, she checks out the dressing table in

which Pollione has placed his red roses (there is a point

here, stay with me). Norma has a pleasing timbre, but her

tremulous singing does not bode well. "Casta diva" is

adequate, no more. The line is loose, not ideally bound,

the top pushed. No real mezza-voce. One verse of the

cabaletta, clumsily sung, the coda trimmed. Converts words

into "ah" for the florid passages. Meantime, a younger

woman has come in, looks imperiously over at the Norma,

sits at the the dressing table with the Pollione-laden red


The younger woman turns out to be the Adalgisa. An

attractive, raven haired Greek woman. In an ingenue-type

dress. Takes costume out of suitcase, places it in front of

her. Steps cautiously to the front of the stage, and

pantomimes being a prima donna acknowledging applause.

Adalgisa has a pleasing, creamy tone, and sings her sortita

nicely. She and Pollione get into their duet, taking place

in the "dressing room."

It's obvious by now, that this staging is mixing both the

backstage element with the opera pushed to the background:

a real life triangle with the opera's. The Pollione is now

infatuated with the Adalgisa, spurning the aging prima

donna Norma. Only the Adalgisa is not a sweet young thing.

Her backstage persona is scheming, calculating, while she

sings the vestal virgin's lines.

The Buster Brown-attired Clotilde come up from a trap in

the floor with Norma's 2 Dutch children. They play around

her dressing table. It commences with Norma in her motherly

dilemma. Norma and Adalgisa proceed with their duet, but we

see Adalgisa looking contemptuously at Norma - oooh she's

got an agenda.

Pollione comes onto the scene, and of course the "double"

meaning of the trio is supposed to be manifest. Norma is

in dire straits vocally in "O non tremare," the C's pushed

out painfully. Her high D capping the act achieves at least

3 different pitches.

Norma, Pollione and Adalgisa go back to their dressing

tables, miffed.

For act two, same stage. Adalgisa at her dressing table.

Kids asleep on the floor. Norma comes out in this white and

red Quo Vadis gown adorned with gold, and a big red fright

wig. Dutch kids see mamma brandishing a knife (none too

convincingly), run over to nanny Clotilde, and are sent

back under the stage. Norma and Adalgisa go through their

paces in the duet - higher key, both strained, tremulous

on top, not ideal.

Oroveso's Norma-Getting-Ready-For-Her-Final-Scene interlude

is fully staged in costume: combination Viking, Fractured

Fairy Tales. Several of the chorus, including Oroveso has

little mistletoe wings on their heads.

When Norma finds out of Pollione's existence in the

temple/opera house from Nanny Clotilde, she goes over to

his dressing table, grabs the chair and starts smashing the

mirror with the leg of the chair. She's a bit angry. Each

hit is sorta kinda timed with the gong, but it's off.

Having Expressed Anger, Norma tosses chair aside.

"Sterminio" comes out as "Her minio." A Freudian slip??

Pollione comes back out -in civilian clothing. Yes, amongst

the fully costumed cast. He looks aghast at Norma's knife


Curtain closes. The duet commences in front of the red

stage curtain. Pollione's smashed-mirror dressing table

off the left. Norma leans on it, folds her arms

petulantly, and mildly goes into `In mia man." They have a

little spat. "Agalgisa fia punita" disappears, not at all

audible. At the end, we get the two freeze-framed in

place, Norma pointing her knife at Pollione. The director

told her to Do It That Way.

Confession goes off without a hitch. Ditto without a shiver

of emotion. Red wig dramatically removed. Attendants strip

her of her gold adornment, baubles.

As Norma sings "Qual cor tradisti," Pollione gradually puts

back on the rest of his civilian clothes. So does Norma.

Silver raincoat. Fur stole. Hat box carried thoughtfully by

Pollione. (Or is it a makeup case? I was left wondering

for the rest of the opera.)

All of a sudden Norma realizes she has two Dutch kiddies to

think about. Begs Papa to take care of them. Norma, smiling

beamingly at Oroveso, sits down in relief. Papa comforts

her further, to more smiles.

Norma picks up her stole, wraps it around her, and she and

Pollione begin to leave the company. Then. Oh. What's

this!!?? It's Adalgisa!! Adalgisa ritorna! Vincitor!! She

is wearing Norma's costume with red wig! She has stolen

Norma's Mistletoe-Cutter and is NOW THE NEW younger

NORMA!!!!! Old Norma, smiling unconcernedly, caterwauls

"addio" along with Pollione, and sweeps out as grandly as

she entered. Oh wait! Pollione is torn. He does not know

whether to follow Old Norma to Desmond Country or stay and

share victory with Young Norma. Being as Young always

wins, he drops Norma's hat box (I'm still trying to figure

out if that's a hatbox or a makeup case well anyway), he

inches longingly toward Adalgisa, I mean The New Norma, as

the curtain drops to a happy ending!

Bellini's devastating ending has been totally aborted here.

See the parallel? All About Adalgisa.

But it gets even better.

Along with this expensive two-DVD set comes an "Extras"

feature. It should be called Extra Extra Special feature,

because it is every bit as mesmerizing as the allegedly brilliant


The feature is about the making of this production. Julian

Reynolds talks about how the prima donna made it possible

to do this Norma. We see the prima donna complaining to the

costume designer that the gold-leafed Druid tiara is too

thin and doesn't fit. But oh, she tells him, it's a

beautiful, beautiful thing. Then she gives it to the

costume designer, and jokes to him, "Can you put some voice

in that as well?" And she cracks up, overjoyed at her


The prima donna, imperious, complains about the paint on a

dressing room wall. She is anxious. Allergic, she says.

Interviewer asks her: Do you worry a lot about your voice?

Answer" We are paranoiac, yeah." Nods vigorously. "We...( I

mean)I wake up in the morning and I'm frightened to say

"good morning", because I'm frightened...We are very fragile,

very vulnerable." She says with an obviously forced laugh.

She is trying to laugh off her anxiety, but is not

succeeding. And tries to explain what can affect the

voice. She pulls up every reason possible. We see her in

rehearsal, checking everything to make sure it won't

interfere with her voice. She is reassured that the smoke

won't affect her. It does...oor something else.

Apparently, it WAS the paint or the smoke, created from

ice. This is the production where Nelly Miricioiu was

supposedly ailing with a throat infection, and Lucia

Aliberti sang for her in the wings for the premiere.

Hasmik Papian came in for the rest of the run, as Aliberti

wasn't available for further performances. Miricioiu takes

up most of this documentary. We see her rehearsing "Casta

diva," and not doing very well with it. Nothing of an

illness seems wrong with her during the making of this or

through the rehearsals. It is obvious that her voice is no

longer up to doing this role: all her protestations about

the "fragility" of herself seem to be self-validations, in

attempt to reassure herself that it's something else, not

her, that's caused her vocal deterioration.

We then see the last part of this documentary with the

younger Papian taking over. Papian comes across as

thoughtful, modest, a bit reticent, but appealing.

As in the opera, the younger woman has come in to take the

veteran's place. Unfortunately this documentary is not at

all flattering to Miricioiu. She comes across neurotic,

paranoid, and posturing. And a little pathetic. You see her

vainly trying to hide her anxieties about what she knows is

the truth. I think she came into this production knowing

she was not up to the role, but was going to make a valiant

attempt anyway. And canceled because by opening night,

knew it wouldn't work.

Callas fans be warned: both the tenor and conductor give

their opinions on her. Of the "she was great but..." vein.

They averred that Callas, when she declined vocally,

defaulted, to make up for that decline, to a "verismo"

approach. Conductor and tenor don't approve of verismo in

bel canto. And the conductor tries to sell Miricioiu's

completely "different" approach. Hmm.

If you're looking for something remotely resembling

Bellini's opera, you can safely stay away from this one.

But if you don't want to play it safe, and need something

mesmerizingly terrible to watch, then this is your fix!

By far, the worst Norma I've ever encountered. Why? Because it replaces Bellini's and Romani's Norma with an American movie plot. The designers, directors and producers evidently felt the opera was not good enough to stand on its own.