Norma at Royal Opera in Stockholm – synopsis
Composer and librettist
Music: Vincenzo Bellini Lyrics:Felice Romani after Soumet och Chateaubriand.
First performance at 26 december 1831 at Teatro alla Scala in Milano, Italy
Seen the performance: 26.11.2002 Royal Opera in Stockholm
The action takes place in Gaul in about 50 BC. Gaul, a Celtic landcorresponding in area more och less to modern France, is occupied by the Romans. Resistance to the invaders is led by the Druids, the country’s highest caste.
Scene 1. The sacred grove of the Druids
The high priest Oroveso and the Gallic commanders meet in secret under the Druids’ holy oak where they are to await a signal from the gods to rise against the Romans. At the time of the new moon, Norma, daughter of Oroveso and high priestess of the temple of the goddess Irminsul, is to cut the mistletoe from the oak and, if given the sign, is to order the Gauls to launch their attack.Hidden nearby is the Roman Pro-consul Pollione and his Centurion Flavio.Norma has long been in love with Pollione, by whom she has secretly had two sons, and therefore wishes to avert the dangers to which war would expose him. She prays to the chaste moon goddess (“Casta diva”), begging her for peace. Norma is unaware that Pollione now loves another, the young templevirgin Adalgisa, who returns his love. At a meeting In the sacred grove, Pollione and Adalgisa agree to flee to Rome together.
Scene 2. Outside Norma’s dwelling
Norma confides to Clotilde, her confidante, that she believes Pollione intends to desert her and the children. Adalgisa comes to unburden her heart and tells Norma of her illicit love for a Roman, begging her to free her from her vow of chastity. Norma, who is in the same situation, wishes to help Adalgisa,but on learning that both love the same man flies into a rage and curses Pollione and his love for the young temple virgin.
Scene 1. Norma’s dwelling
In deep despair, Norma is seized by a desire to kill her own children, but, resisting the impulse, decides to renounce Pollione and take her own life instead.She entrusts her children to Adalgisa and her future husband. But Adalgisa can no longer contemplate a future with the man who has been so unfaithful to Norma and offers to mediate between the two.
Scene 2. The sacred cave of the Druids
The Gauls have gathered again, waiting to go to war, though Oroveso urges them to be patient. The gods have not yet given the signal for the attack.
Scene 3. The sacred temple of the Druids
Waiting for Adalgisa, whose attempt at mediation has failed,Norma believes herself to have been deceived. From Clotilde she learns that Pollione plans to carry off Adalgisa from the temple against her will, and she lives the signal for war with the Romans.
Pollione has been captured in the temple and, having invaded holy ground,is to be sacrificed to the gods. Still deeply enamoured of him, Norma first offers Pollione his life in exchange for his renunciation of Adalgisa. Pollione refuses, and Norma submits a new victim – a perjured virgin.
But Norma cannot let Adalgisa die for a sin she has herself committed. At first none can believe her confession, but she persists. She entrusts the children to Oroveso and mounts the funeral pyre. Now Pollione’s love for Norma is aroused anew and he joins her on the pyre to meet his death and atone for their offenses against the gods.
Translation Alan Imber