The Times-Herald Online (Original Article here)
Narrowsburg, NY — Vincenzo Bellini's "Norma" contains some of the most challenging arias for a soprano, and turning in an impressive performance in the title role of this difficult work in Sunday afternoon's presentation by Delaware Valley Opera was Erika Wueschner.
It's as a scorned woman that the High Priestess of the Druids, forsaken by a Roman officer serving Caesar's army in Gaul, that she not only avenges his duplicity but also accepts the shared fate of death.
While there is no great funeral pyre or, for that matter, any fixtures on the stage of Tusten Theatre, the intensity of the story creates its own mindset for the viewer in this concert version. Supporting the principals on stage are priests, soldiers and Druids on the borders of the 14-piece orchestra in the pit.
The hatred of the Roman occupiers spurs Oroveso (Norma's father) to alarm the Druids of impending war, and Troy Gorden as Oroveso delivers an aria of foreboding that hangs throughout the opera.
In her character's appeal to the Chaste Goddess for help, Wueschner displays a trained and talented voice of power as well as refinement. Especially impressive (to audience shouts of "brava") is her unaccompanied cadenza in which her golden tones serve the aura of magic and majesty.
Another aria reflecting disdain for the Roman officer provides her with the compelling music of florid passages, soaring runs and sustained, glowing tones at the top of her range that add the power of fury to the tormented woman. Providing solace to the anguished Priestess is her confidant Clothilda (Carol Diefenbach). In a duet of pleasantries she shares with Erika Person (playing Adelgisa), the two women's voices not only blend beautifully but also, without any accompaniment, deliver a sublime passage of parallel phrasing. Person also pleads her character's case with elegance of tone and poignancy of feeling.
As Pollione, Marshall Cooper imbues the military man with mixed concern for the two women; in an elegant aria, his character would have Adelgisa return to Rome with him, while in facing the wrath of Norma before judgment his voice turns bold and defiant. In the minor role of Flavio, the reliable aide with whom Pollione discusses romance, Osualdo Cicchetti displays a resonant tenor voice.