Premiere NORMAVincenzo Bellini
If opera can be considered to be a factory that produces emotions, then Norma is the culminate of bel canto. Uncontrolled emotions are manifested in a completely controlled art of singing. Bellini’s Norma is an excellent example of an impossible art form – the opera. To stage an opera means asking questions continually, though not giving answers at any cost. When we stage Norma, we do not prescribe to the audience what insights to draw from this story.
The story could be told this way:
A man fell in love with a friend of his wife, or to be more precise, a man wishes to replace his beloved in the fireworks of a new passion; the consequence being scruple and a jealousy drama of two women who love the same man, clearly a man without any qualms. It is actually an everyday story as from today’s perspective Norma is an employed single mother with a lover. As feelings are a private matter, someone might think that the only subject matter of this opera is an intimate triangle. However, Bellini’s Norma is more complex than that, precisely because of the social context, namely, the man’s name is Pollione and he is a Roman citizen, a soldier and the occupant’s army soldier of the annexed country, Gaul, while both women are his enemy’s daughters. We all know what problems can be created by the situation in which “enemies” fall in love with each other, and such a situation even today often ends in the way that she gets prosecuted in the end by her co-nationals.
Although she sings the aria of “Casta Diva” enchantingly, Norma is not of a submissive, affectionate and likeable character. She does not shrink from cursing or blackmailing. How far can a woman go when she falls in love; how far can she go when she is let down? Let the story surprise us.
Christian Romanowski, director