Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
Tragedia lirica in due atti
Libretto by Felice Romani
First performance: Milano Teatro alia Scala, December 26,1831
Live recorded November 2000 in Savona
Teatro dell'Opera Giocosa - Teatro Comunale Chiabrera
Norma (Soprano) MARIA DRAGONI Pollione (Tenore) GTANLUCA ZAMPIERI Adalgisa (Soprano) RAFFAELLA ANGELETTI Oroveso (Basso) GIORGIO GIUSEPPINI Clotilde (Mezzosoprano) PAOLA LEVERONl Flavio (Baritono) WALTER OMAGGIO
Conductor MASSIMIL1ANO CARRARO
Orchestra Sinfonica di Savona
Coro lirico G. Manzino - Savona
Chorus Master MASSIMO DE STEFANO
Director MASSIMO GASPARON Assistant Director Isabella Cecchini Light Designer Graziella Fancello
Musical Consultant Giovanna Nocetti Audio recording by Kicco Music s.a.s. Video recording by Metis Film s.n.c. Audio editing by Kicco Music Milano
Time: Roman Occupation, about 50 B. C. Place: Gaui.
Act I. Sacred grove of the Druids. The high priest Oroveso comes with the Druids to the sacred grove to beg of the gods to rouse the people to war and aid them to accomplish the destruction of the Romans. Scarcely have they gone than the Roman Pro-consul Pollione appears and confides to his Centurion, Flavius, that he no longer loves Norma, although she has broken her vows of chastity for him and has borne him two sons. He has seen Adalgisa and loves her. At the sound of the sacred instrument of bronze that calls the Druids to the temple, the Romans disappear. The priest and priestesses approach the altar. Norma, the high priestess, daughter of Oroveso, ascends the steps of the altar. No one suspects her intimacy with the Roman enemy. But she loves the faithless man and therefore seek to avert the danger that threatens him, should Gaul rise against the Romans, by prophesying that Rome will fall through its own weakness, and declaring that it is not yet the will of the gods that Gaul shall go to war. She also prays to the "chaste goddess" for the return of the Roman leader, who has left her. Another priestess is kneeling in deep prayer. This is Adalgisa, who also loves Pollione. The scene changes and shows, Norma's dwelling. The priestess is steeped in deep sadness, for she knows that Pollione plans to desert her and their offspring, although she is not yet aware of her rival's identity. Adalgisa comes to her to unburden her heart to her superior. She confesses that to her faith she has become untrue through love — and love for a Roman. Norma, thinking of her own unfaithfulness to her vows, is about to free Adalgisa from hers, when Pollione appears. Now she learns who the beloved Roman of Adalgisa is. But the latter turns from Pollione. She loves Norma too well to go away with the betrayer of the high-priestess.
Act II - Norma, filled with despair, is beside the cradle of her little ones. An impulse to kill them comes over her. But motherhood triumphs over unrequited love. She will renounce her lover. Adalgisa shall become the happy spouse of Pollione, but shall promise to take the place of mothe to her children. Adalgisa, howver, will not hear of treachery to Norma. She goes to Pollione, but only to remind him of his duty. The scene changes again to a wooded region of the temple in which the warriors of Gaul have gathered. Norma awaits the result of Adalgisa's plea to Pollione; then learns that she has failed and has come back to the grove to pass her life as a priestess. Norma s wrath is now beyond control. Three times she strikes the brazen shield; and, when the warriors have gathered, theyjoyfully hear her message: War against the Romans! But with their deep war song now mingles the sound of tumult from the temple. A Roman has broken into the sacred edifice. He has been captured. It is Pollione, who she knows has sought to carry of Adalgisa. The penalty for his intrusion is death. But Norma, moved by love to pity, and still hoping to save her recreant lover, submits a new victim to the enraged Gauls -- a perjured virgin of the priesthood. "Speak, then, and name her!" they cry. To their amazement she utters her own name, then confesses all to her father, and to his care confides her children. A pyre has been erected. She mounts it, but not alone. Pollione, his love rekindled at the spectacle of her greatness of soul, joins her. In the flames he, too, will atone for their offence before God.