Norma at the Metropolitan Opera (Norma)

October 14th, 2013

Old Gods Awaken

Angela Meade and Jamie Barton both delivered tremendous performances in last night’s Norma at the Met, causing some old-school pandemonium in the house. Meade sang with a degree of dramatic involvement that I hadn’t yet seen from this greatly gifted soprano. … By the end she had taken full, fiery command of the stage. … To see these young artists reveling together in their voices makes you believe unswervingly in the future of the art.”

—  The Rest Is Noise, New Yorker critic Alex Ross (October 2013)

Bringing New Life to Druid’s Sacrifice

“There are many tiny changes that occur over the course of an opera’s run, but I have a major one to report. Two, in fact: a pair of new singers, the soprano Angela Meade and the mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, in the opera’s crucial leading roles. Blazing on Thursday evening, they are a duo that every opera lover should hear, and they sing just one more performance, on Monday evening. [Ms. Meade’s] voice on Thursday evening was fuller than I had heard it before — and sometimes fearlessly rawer — but more important, she sang with new focus and fire. In Act I, she seemed to be portraying Bellini’s Druid priestess as a vulnerable girl, her singing ivory-light and her acting insouciant. She even seemed (and sounded) a touch indecisive in ‘Casta Diva,’ the prayer to the moon, as though Norma were still getting used to her profound responsibilities. But by Act II, when we see the full range of the character’s rage and compassion, she was very much a woman, building in stature to her final act of self-sacrifice. She has a less recognizable voice than the grandly vibrating darkness of Sondra Radvanovsky, the Norma earlier in the run, but she more surely ties the music to the dramatic situation, and she rides Bellini’s long lines more comfortably. … [Ms. Barton’s] and Ms. Meade’s voices combined with shining lightness. … The Met’s production, originally directed by John Copley, is still a hideous, confusing mess. But with Ms. Meade and Ms. Barton acting with moving subtlety, singing generously and feeling deeply, it was hard to care.”

 —  The New York Times, Zachary Woolfe (October 2013)


Meade’s bel canto credentials are impeccable, where her creamy legato enlivens a rich, even and flexible voice. Norma’s entrance aria, ‘Casta diva’ began as a smoky, internalized invocation, and Meade challenged conductor Riccardo Frizza with drawn-out climactic phrases that showcased masterful breath control and musical poise. In recitatives and in the climactic ‘In mia man alfin tu sei,’ ‘the soprano’s rich, firm middle voice was on display, and a blazing high D capped the great trio finale to Act One.”

—  New York Classical Review, Judith Malafronte (October 2013)