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Vincenzo Bellini 1801–1835

Tragedia lirica in 3 acts, libretto by Felice Romani
based on the tragedy Norma ou L’Infanticide (1831) by Alexandre Soumet
First performed December 26 1831, Teatro alla Scala, Milan

This production first seen June 10 2018
Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles

Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube shortly before opening night

Bellini's Norma was long thought of as a useful vehicle for divas – hardly surprising: the role is one of the most demanding there is. The work has been taken more seriously in recent years. It deals with questions which still occupy us today: how to deal with the contradictions between public office and private happiness? How much does responsibility for one's own children determine life? What role does religion play in society? What happens to a friendship between two women who love the same man? These themes are mirrored in a story about the Gallic seer Norma, who enters into a relationship with the Roman proconsul Pollione, her people's deadly enemy. When he betrays her love she goes through a jumble of emotions which climax in self sacrifice as an expression of the admission of her own guilt. Bellini found a musical language for the work that places singing at the centre, in bel canto, probably it's most perfect form, which is truthful and deeply moving.