If opera is generally armed with passion, love, disappointment, lies and death, Norma, by Viscenzo Bellini, is the sublimation of the genre and possibly the most suitable composition for the Royal Theater of Madrid to keep its demanding audience satisfied. eager for a quality cultural offering when restrictions stemming from the pandemic have fatally wounded culture across the country. “The public is hungry for cultural proposals”, explained this Tuesday from Madrid the soprano from Gran Canaria Yolanda Auyanet, protagonist of this version of the popular work premiered in 1831. “As much as those who direct us insist on relegating culture to a plane of mere entertainment, people are hungry for beauty, depth, critical thinking and all the things that culture encourages. Culture is as necessary as bread ”, adds the renowned interpreter, Norma in this version where he shares the stage with another canary, the tenor Juan Antonio Sanabria, Flavio in a montage whose musical and stage direction is provided by, respectively, Marco Armiliato and Justin Way.
Considered one of the top works of belcanto, its extraordinary melodic beauty masks an enormous vocal difficulty, especially in the title role, and with it Bellini manipulates the most fiery emotions of melodrama like no one else.
“Human quality facilitates interaction on stage”, says Juan A. Sanabria
“I face Norma as I have always faced the characters I play: with rigor and concentration; I try to understand at all times what the composer and librettist suggest to me and, above all, with great respect ”, says Auyanet, an artist of international projection with almost three decades of work behind her and some Norms already swarming among doubts in her extensive curriculum .
In a twist on an opera whose real action takes place in Gaul during the Roman occupation, around the year 50 BC, Justin Way places the action of this new production inside an old Italian theater with the entire company rehearsing Norma. Abroad, the 19th century, which began marked by the Congress of Vienna after the defeat of Napoleon, kept northern Italy under Austrian domination, whose reactionary government provoked the birth of the first nationalist movements. Between both worlds, the two main interpreters of the show maintain a secret relationship subjected to personal and social tensions, immersed in a conflict that they do not know how to manage.
“I think that the staging of Way brings an extra humanity to the characters, without losing sight of the social and political context of the time in which this opera was composed,” explains the soprano. “For me it has been very enriching to work with him. In the musical part, the support he gives to the singers, his exquisite musicality, his warmth, his preparation, his respect for the composer … What more can the maestro Marco Armiliato contribute! ”.
“I observe in each theater where I go to work how tickets are sold out,” he says.
“Very good chemistry and a lot of empathy have been created throughout the company, from the technician or councilor to the musical director, singers, tailoring, makeup, etc.”, explains the Gran Canaria tenor Juan Antonio Sanabria, Flavio in the work, who faces his first role in Norma, a production where only the artistic team is made up of 175 people -the technical staff is lacking-.
“I think that the human quality with which this production is being carried out”, he continues, “makes the interaction between the characters very easy on stage precisely because of what I have said previously. It is a version in which, since the curtain rises, all the emotions that are generated throughout the opera are flowing. These days we have held the general rehearsals and for the public and the artists it has been very easy to connect through this wonderful music by Bellini ”, says the canary.
In times of Covid, mobilizing so many people in a single space is already a show worthy of an opera, but the necessary security measures have been taken to avoid any scare related to the pandemic. The preparations for this super production started several months ago although the interpreters joined a few weeks ago.
“I think the Justin Way cut brings an extra humanity to the characters,” he says.
“I have been immersed in this Standard since February 1”, recognizes Yolanda Auyanet, who does not hide that “of course” is an extra motivation “to be able to sing in a theater in this difficult time we live”. This canariona says that it is time to show that “it can be done: if there is a will, we must keep the flame of culture alight for ourselves and for all workers in the world of entertainment and culture in general who at this moment do not have the fortune to work and that they are eighty-five percent of the workers in the sector. That is why we must thank the Teatro Real and the other Spanish theaters that have kept their doors and their minds open, despite the difficulties ”, he acknowledges.
“You can’t imagine how much!”, Replies Juan Antonio Sanabria when asked if he thinks there is a desire for shows like the one that the Teatro Real opens tonight. “I must say that, although there are indeed many projects that have been canceled or, in the best of cases, the dates have been postponed, I still have an agenda that allows me to carry out my work. I say this because currently I observe in each theater, each auditorium or concert hall where I go to work how tickets are sold out. In some cases ”, he continues,“ in fact there are people who do not get tickets because everything is full and that is a sign that society is not only wanting to enjoy culture, but also the need to continue giving space to cultural proposals ”, assures the Gran Canaria. “The cultural sector is that space in which human beings heal our emotions; It helps us to recharge our batteries to return to our routine life being happier ”.
“The public is hungry for cultural proposals”, believes the Canarian interpreter
In the same vein, the soprano Yolanda Auyanet insists on the importance of recovering the theater, cultural activity and live performances. “Nothing virtual or recorded can come close to emotion, to the sensations that a live show gives. Whoever experiences these sensations can no longer settle for something else. The important thing is to get more and more people to come to the live show ”, adds this passionate woman who has made her career in Milan. where they also adore her.
However, she does not forget her native Gran Canaria and when asked if it is difficult for an artist born in a remote Atlantic archipelago to succeed in Belcanto, she says that it is achieved “with a lot of determination, a lot of sacrifice, working very hard, with the help of the people who have always believed in me and with the support of my family, without which I would not have been able to ”. In addition, the soprano adds with affection: “I have to say that the Canariones contributed their grain of sand in my training in the form of scholarships from the Cabildo, and I do not forget that.”
In the proposal of this Standard for the season, which is performed between March 3 and 19, the scenography by Charles Edwards, which reproduces the structure of a theater in decline, and the wardrobe of Sue Willmington, who draws a imaginative clothing for druids and romans, very much to the taste of the time, alternating with nineteenth-century figurines for “real” life. Nicolas Fischtel, responsible for lighting, evokes the footlights of the stages of other times, whose warm light contributes to the dreamlike game in which both realities coexist while the maestro Marco Armiliato returns to the moat of the Royal Theater to lead the Choir and the Titulares Orchestra.