Bellini’s Norma is a tale of illicit love between two Gaulish priestesses (can women be called druids?) and a Roman tribune. In this 2006 production for the Bayerische Staatsoper director Jürgen Rose has set the piece in the present day in a vaguely Middle Eastern setting. Within that framework the story is told quite straightforwardly and there’s no attempt to project some kind of agenda. The designs are very striking. Blue figures a lot. Norma’s home is an underground bunker. When the Gauls arm for war they put on ski masks and supplement their spears with assault rifles. It all looks really good. The acting is also excellent and we get some real intensity in the Norma/Pollione/Adalgisa love triangle and in the tension between Norma and her father Oroveso. It works as drama.