Music Director: William Stevens

Design and Stage Direction: Neil Kirkman

Auditions for the principal roles were held on Sunday 2nd June 2024 in Bath, and the following cast announcement has now been made:

“Given the excellence of the auditionees, and also being very much aware that Norma and Pollione are such difficult roles and that February is cold and flu season, we decided to double cast those two roles. On Monday the Trustees of Bath Opera agreed to sell tickets for the second dress rehearsal as a preview evening so both singers will get two nights with audience.

The cast we chose was as follows:

Norma –  Cecilia Zhang and Joelene Griffith
Pollione – John Haque and Robert Felstead
Adalgisa – Anna Fitzgerald   
Oroveso – Robert Marson
Clothilde – Meredith Cardew
Flavio – Alex Pinkstone

The Production

The production will take place in the Roper Theatre in Bath – a modern, well equipped theatre in a school complex. It will be fully costumed and staged and will be working with professional  but reduced sized orchestra of 20-24. Be aware that as there is no pit, the orchestra will be behind you and you will see the conductor on monitors. Bath Opera has done this several times and it presents no real problems.

It will be sung in Italian.

Performance Dates

Tech rehearsal                             17th Feb 25

Dress rehearsal with orchestra   18th Feb 25

Preview performance                    19th Feb 25

Performance                                  20th Feb 25

Performance                                  21st Feb 25

Performance                                  22nd Feb 25


Rehearsals start in early September and the default is that principals work on Sunday mornings and the chorus on Wednesday evenings. However depending on the cast, Will and I are happy to be  flexible on this commensurate with getting the results we want, so we may have fewer but longer Sunday rehearsals. Given that the chorus work is interwoven with the principals you should be prepared to attend Wednesday rehearsals when called, probably from about mid November onwards.

Character Sketches

Norma – dramatic coloratura soprano

This is a woman who lives her life on a knife edge and is therefore in a state of constant high tension. I see her as having three ‘faces’. She is at her calmest when she is fulfilling her role as high priestess – even when she is committing human sacrifice (which she will be doing on stage). Much of the ritual, such as during ‘Casta Diva’, I see like a Priest preparing the altar for communion… important to her but effectively just ‘going through the motions’. Think of replacing the symbols of  bread and wine with Mistletoe and Ivy.

Her more domestic ‘face’ is very tense. Her children are the very symbol of her transgressions against both her vows of chastity and that she broke those vows with the enemy of her people. She is capable of showing warmth to both her children and Adalgisa but frustration and anger soon bubbles to the surface.

Her lovers ‘face’ is only seen after she has been jilted so this is where her tension and frustration can rise to full blown rage.

Pollione – tenor

He’s a man completely in charge and used to vanquishing all opposition and getting his way. Quite happy to dump his ‘wife’ who has made great sacrifices for him and then inflict the same damage on another. In this he is quite one-dimensional until right at the end of the opera when he suddenly discovers another side of his character. Think of him as a Napoleon character.

Adalgisa – soprano (nb. lower register passages down to b flat)

She is Norma’s mirror image but a few years earlier in the cycle. Assume she is Norma’s apprentice high priestess with a close relationship. However, unbeknown to her she is following in Norma’s footsteps in more ways than one! In the first scenes she feels guilt for betraying her vows but this is offset by the new excitement of being loved (or so she’s told) by Pollione.

However, once the truth is out she then feels guilt for having betrayed Norma and  anger that she herself has been betrayed… there is no upside here. So, like Norma she suffers great tension throughout but for her, both types of tension are quite new, so she wears them more as moods rather than something which has ingrained over time to be a fixed part of her character. So she is ‘lighter’ than Norma.

Oroveso – bass/bass baritone

Standard Italian opera bass father/authority figure with a bit of a twist that he isn’t really in charge. He’s chief of the druids but it’s Norma, his daughter, who to his obvious frustration calls the shots. He does have a moral battle at the end of the opera between his feelings as father (and grandfather) and his role as upholder of custom and ritual.

Clothilde – soprano or mezzo

Quite a nice character role. She is the only warm character and as such can play a foil against Norma in the domestic scenes. Not entirely clear what her role is – friend/nanny/servant? But she is clearly close to Norma and sees her as a real person rather than a powerful and scary priestess. Therefore all her actions can appear natural with nothing to hide.

Flavio – tenor

Again an interesting role as he is a mirror reflecting Pollione’s weaknesses. Whereas Pollione does most of his thinking between his legs, Flavio uses his head and is constantly basically saying “are you really sure about this? It doesn’t seem a very good idea to me”.