Opera diva Norman to sing in Bangkok

The Nation - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Billed as the “greatest soprano of our generation”, Jessye Norman will make her debut performance in the Kingdom on May 2 in front of what is expected to be a full house at the Thailand Cultural Centre.

“Jessye Norman is more than just opera or classical music,” said Bangkok Opera’s Somtow Sucharitkul, of the diva who has a strong following around the world.

Dubbed the “prima donna absoluta” of the century, Norman created ripples in the operatic world across Europe for her riveting performance as Elizabeth in Wagner’s “Tannhauser” at the Deutsche Opera in Berlin.

Her rendition in Schoenberg’s “Erwartung” was said to be the “greatest performance of all time”.

Somtow calls Norman, who is noted for her versatility, “the soprano who has done it all”.

A Wagnerian soprano, Norman went from singing “Aida” at La Scala to doing “Les Troyens” at Covent Garden, adding the wholly different art of French opera.

Nothing, it appears, seems able to stop this diva’s remarkable, penetrating voice.

Norman, who has had an orchid named after her, is also known for singing spirituals – mostly by Gershwin.

During the Bangkok performance, she will most likely offer a varying repertoire of classical and popular pieces.

According to Somtow, Norman has requested a wellknown Thai song and was given the lyrics to “Bua Khao” but with a revised piano arrangement to suit her voice.

“This is a onceinalifetime chance to hear one of the greatest voices of the century live in Thailand.

You simply cannot afford to miss this,” said an excited Somtow.

Norman’s “A Voice for Peace” performance is part of the “Bridges Dialogue for a Culture of Peace”, and is being held on the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Sixth Cycle Birthday this year.

Cora Sukhyanga

The Nation