Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, February 25, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Norma (Sharon Spinetti) and her imprisoned lover,
Pollione (Drew Alan Slatton), sing a duet as Norma
decides whether to stab Pollione for his betrayal.

Woman warrior—and
so much more

By Cynthia Oi


Norma is a spiritual leader, a mother, a warrior, but most of all a woman who struggles to do the right thing. While dealing with the responsibility of being a Druid priestess, she discovers she's been betrayed by her lover. To make matters worse, he is a Roman, and her Celtic people are preparing to battle his.

What a predicament.

That's one of the reasons Sharon Spinetti sees the title role of "Norma," Hawaii Opera Theatre's last show of its season, as "the most difficult" in opera.

"Norma is a very complex character," said Spinetti, who is in the islands from New York rehearsing for the performance. Most of the operatic roles she plays are multi-dimensional people, she said, "but they don't cover the range of Norma, who is warrior with a sword, mother, lover."

In addition to the dramatic challenges, the vocal character comes with some history, she said.

"A lot of famous sopranos have sung this and made it their signature role so when you hear 'Norma,' it conjures up images for many people," among them the famous Maria Callas, Spinetti said.

She will take up the gauntlet by bringing her soul to the work.

"In the singing of this, you must be true to the emotional drama. It has to be real," she said.

Norma is also an exhausting role. "You're on your feet a lot and the character spends much of the time on stage. I have to make sure I get enough sleep and eat well and that my body is prepared. It takes so much energy to maintain that character."

The plot of the opera "can be seen as very contemporary," Spinetti said. The priestess must determine the right moment to call her people to battle the Romans. At the same time, her Roman lover, Pollione, is wooing her friend, a young priestess who does not know of his relationship with Norma. When the women discover his duplicity, the younger turns him away out of love and respect for the elder.

Norma, who has secretly had two children by Pollione, is consumed with anguish. Struggling with revenge, she must weigh her problems against those of her people.

"We can all grasp the spirituality of Norma," Spinetti said. "Her nature -- that she forgives the others in the end -- is important to her character."

"The role is something that you feel blessed doing. This is like the ultimate role for a soprano. You have a chance to do everything and let loose."



Bullet On stage: 8 p.m. tomorrow, 4 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. March 2 and 4
Bullet Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Bullet Tickets: $34-$77
Bullet Call: 596-7858

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin