Edita Gruberova-Norma in concert-Budapest-16.11.2009

Bellini: Norma
Opera concertante in two acts
Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
Norma: Edita Gruberova
Adalgisa: Carmen Oprisanu
Pollione: Aquiles Machado
Oroveso: Peter Mikuláš
Hungarian National Choir (choirmaster: Mátyás Antal)
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Oliver von Dohnányi
......Some fact about the concert hall first. It’s almost new. The Palace of Arts was finished in 2005 or 2006. The design is modern and on the outside, by night, the building is impressive. The lighting changes color every few minutes. It was red, orange, blue, pink, green and purple. There are large corridors, a big black reception desk with 3-4 young ladies happy to help you, several bars. This building also hosts the Modern Art Museum. The concert hall has about 1700 seats: parterre and three stories, with some chairs on the sides too. Wooden panels make the acoustics very good. The stage is big enough for a large orchestra and chorus without being crowded.
......I listened to Norma several times. With different casts. There are some arias that I like very, very much, such as Casta Diva (in the first act) and Miro Norma (in the last one). But listening to Norma in concert I discovered some more. The duet of Norma and Adalgisa in the end of the first act, the trio Norma, Adalgisa, Pollione.
......I wanted to see this particular Norma for two reasons. First was the presence of Edita Gruberova. I think she has a great voice and her bel canto abilities are still very good despite the age. The second reason was the fact it was opera in concert. This allows the listener to focus more on the music and doesn’t get distract of the sets, costumes and he/she might not like. The orchestra and chorus are on the stage from the beginning. The soloists come when their turn come and leave after their part finishes. And they don’t wear costumes. Edita Gruberova was wearing a pink with black lace dress and Carmen Oprisanu a black dress.
......Because the orchestra is not in the pit but on stage, the sound is stronger. But the conductor was extremely careful with that. There wasn’t a single note louder than it should have been. Nothing disturbed or covered the voices. A special care towards the soprano. The conductor was closely following her, especially during the arias. As I said many times before, it is very important for the soloist to be sustained by the orchestra, to be allowed to slow down or rush as she/he feels appropriate. Cast Diva was so full of passion and sensibility. The flute magically introduced everybody in the atmosphere. The aria is a pray. Most of it is in piano and the voice of the soprano has mingles with the chorus. No wonder there were so many ovations after the aria. By the way, the event was sold out but I could spot some empty seats at the parterre.
......All the voices were impressive but the best for me were those of Gruberova and Oprisanu. They matched perfectly. Maybe because of so many other rehearsals they had together. They both starred in Lucrezia Borgia in Munich. There’s no video of them both on youtube so you’ll have to see for yourselves next time they’ll perform. Again I was very proud to be Romanian with Mrs Oprisanu on stage.
......Special appreciation for the chorus. I think it was easier for them to sing on stage than sing and act in a regular performance. So they all concentrated better on the score. Amazing pianissimos and goose bump fortes. This is of course also the conductor’s merit. With one eye at the soloists and the other ruling the orchestra and chorus, he made the evening perfect.
......A lot of ovations in the end. It was a job very well done. Applauses equally shared by the 6 soloists, orchestra, chorus and conductor. The audience wanted them back on stage several times. When it seemed that everything ended, the orchestra and chorus left the stage, some Edita’s fans standing close to the stage started to cheer again, asking people around them to keep applauding. We did that and in about half a minute Edita came on stage again. This happened also at the end of the concert I attended in Barcelona this Spring. Only that there the people were more enthusiastic. The cheerings lasted for more than 20 minutes.
......An autograph session followed. It was announced and there were a lot of CDs and DVDs available for buying for those who didn’t bring anything to be signed on from home. There was a table prepared for Mrs Gruberova and people started queuing patiently. She came in less than half an hour, wearing a green jacket and smiling to everyone. Again it seemed to me that it was an “I have smile no matter what” smile. She sat down and started signing: cd and dvd booklets, posters, LP covers, photos of her and fans, photos of her from different productions, programs, concert tickets. Only those who were patient enough to wait till the end of the queue got the chance to ask her to have a picture taken with them.
......But there was no sight of Mrs Oprisanu. From previous experiences I know that Romanians enjoy speaking their native tongue when they’re abroad. And I wanted her to know that I appreciated very much her voice, that I came to listen to her too, not only to Edita. You might ask “why?”. Why not? I she made me proud she might be glad to know she did that. I found her close to the exit door. She was waiting for Edita and others to come down. She’s a very nice person and I was right. She was surprised that I approached her and pleased with what I said.
......If you want to see Edita Gruberova performing live, among other locations she’ll be in Vienna for I Puritani in January, in Salzburg, during the Festival, for Norma and in Vienna in September for Lucrezia Borgia. If you can’t make it to Salzburg to see Norma, there’s a DVD with the production in Munich. And she has a new release on DVD, Lucrezia Borgia, also from Munich.
......The pictures that follow are in chronological order, from the beginning to the end of the evening.
The Palace of Arts, Budapest


The Bela Bartok concert hall

Edita Gruberova

During the interval

Carmen Oprisanu and Edita Gruberova

The orchestra and chorus left. She came back.

Watch and listen:
Norma - Casta Diva - Munich

Norma - Miro Norma - Gruberova/Ganassi - Munich

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  1. Congratulations and thanks for the nice comments and pictures! The concert hall in Budapest is wonderful, indeed. Concerning the musical part, I am glad for the great success. "Norma" is my favorite opera from the whole repertory. The most beautiful and emotional melodies flow continously. Bellini is a great master of belcanto, perhaps the best. It's a pity that he died so young ... You mentioned some of most impressive parts of the opera; I would also add the final part starting with "In mia man alfin tu sei ...". The subject itself is very dramatic and perfectly described by the music. Only a good interpretation can reveal the whole beauty of this opera. So, in Budapest it was possible to organize such an event with remarkable singers. I have seen Edita Gruberova in the Munich production on DVD - a very high level performance. I wish you many other such pleasant musical experiences!

  2. Thanks, Sir.

    Great voices in a great concert hall. I wish we had something like it.

    The next musical experience is next week. I'll write about it soon.