Vincenzo Bellini • April 25, 28; May 1, 3, 2020
Norma is the tragic tale of a conflict between love and duty. Norma is a Druid priestess in ancient Gaul, which is being occupied by Roman invaders. Norma falls in love with, and bears two children to, the Roman leader Pollione, thereby betraying her own people and breaking her sacred vows. When Norma finds out Pollione is having an affair with another priestess, it pushes her over the edge with deadly consequences.
The role of Norma has long been considered one of the most grueling and challenging in all of opera. We are thrilled to present star soprano Leah Crocetto, who captivated Pittsburgh audiences as Tosca in 2017, in the role of Norma.
See why Norma is Bellini’s ultimate masterpiece, and why this story of forbidden love has been called ‘opera at its very best.’
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Antony Walker
Stage Director - Stephanie Havey
Wig and Make-up Designer - James Geier
Lighting Designer - Cindy Limauro
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Chorus Master - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist - James Lesniak
Asst Stage Director - Matthew Haney*
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Asst Stage Manager - Jin Ah Lee
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Production owned by Cincinnati Opera
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Norma featuring excerpts from this 1954 EMI recording with Tullio Serafin conducting the Orchestre Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
Act I, Scene I
- "Overture" - performed by the orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy
- “Svanir Le Voci” - sung by Mario Filippeschi as Pollione
- "Casta Diva" - sung by Maria Callas as Norma
- “Va, Crudele” - sung by Mario Filippeschi as Pollione and Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa
Act I, Scene II
- "Oh, Rimembranza” - sung by Maria Callas as Norma and Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa
- "Oh Di Qual Sei Tu Vittima" - sung by Maria Callas as Norma, Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa, and Mario Filippeschi as Pollione
- "Mira, O Norma…Cedi, Deh Cedi” - sung by Maria Callas as Norma and Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa
- "Guerra! Guerra!” - performed by the chorus of the Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, Italy
- “Norma, Deh! Norma Scolpati!” - finale performed by cast and chorus
ACT I. The action takes place in ancient Gaul, under Roman occupation, where the Druid priestess Norma has fallen in love with a Roman official named Pollione and has secretly borne him two children. Norma is also the daughter of the Druids' leader, Oroveso.
As the action begins, Oroveso instructs his followers to go into the sacred forest and wait for Norma, who will signal the start of a planned revolt against the Romans. When the Druids leave, we find Pollione talking with the centurion Flavio. Pollione admits that he's no longer in love with Norma. His new romantic interest is the young acolyte Adalgisa, one of Norma's temple virgins. In the forest, a brass gong sounds. Pollione and Flavio leave, and a chorus announces the arrival of Norma.
As she cuts the sacred mistletoe, Norma sings the classic bel cantoaria "Casta Diva," a prayer to the goddess for victory over the Romans. The Druids follow Norma off, leaving Adalgisa alone to struggle with her emotions. She's torn between her love for Pollione, and her loyalty to Norma and her sworn duties. Pollione joins Adalgisa and begs her to elope with him to Rome.
The second scene takes place at Norma's home. She tells her friend Clotilde to hide her two little boys — the sons Norma had with Pollione. She's afraid of her ambivalent feelings toward them: "I love, and at the same time, hate, my children," she says.
Adalgisa pays a visit to Norma, asking to be released from her vows. She admits she's found love, though she doesn't say with whom. Norma is touched, remembering her own early days with Pollione. She agrees to release Adalgisa from her vows. But when Pollione arrives, the truth comes out. Norma realizes that he has betrayed her with Adalgisa, and Adalgisa learns that Pollione had pledged himself to Norma.
The act closes in a fiery confrontation. Norma curses Pollione, saying "My burning fury will engulf you like the wind and the waves." She orders Adalgisa to go with him. Adalgisa tells Pollione she'd rather die than desert her people.
ACT II. So far, Norma has come across as an unpredictable and even dangerous woman. Now, we find her sounding vulnerable and filled with doubt — and with a knife in her hand. She's still angry with Pollione and contemplates killing their two young sons. She raises her dagger over the sleeping children, but at the last moment backs down.
Norma calls for Adalgisa, and tells her to take the children and go live with Pollione in Rome. In a spectacular duet, Adalgisa says she won't do it. Instead, she'll tell Pollione of Norma's suffering, hoping that will move him to come back to Norma.
The scene changes to the sacred forest. Oroveso tells his Druid warriors to keep their anger for the Romans in check. They must wait for just the right moment to attack. They leave, and Norma is alone with Clotilde, who tells Norma that Adalgisa has failed to change Pollione's mind. He still loves Adalgisa, and plans to carry her off to Rome.
Norma is furious. "The traitor will go too far," she says, "but I will strike first, and Roman blood will flow like water." She runs to the altar and strikes the ceremonial brass shield, summoning the troops to battle.
In the commotion, an intruder is discovered within the Druid temple. It's Pollione. The punishment for any outsider entering the temple is instant death, and Norma is poised to kill him with the sacred dagger. But she hesitates, admitting to herself that she can't go through with it.
Taking Pollione aside, Norma offers him freedom if he will leave Adalgisa. But Pollione refuses, saying he'd sooner die. Norma says she'd be delighted to arrange for that and for the death of their two young sons, plus the death of his beloved Adalgisa. Pollione begs Norma to spare Adalgisa's life.
Suddenly, Norma calls for her people, announcing that Pollione won't be killed after all. Instead, there's a new victim, one who has betrayed her country. "I am the guilty one," she says and then calls for the sacrificial pyre to be prepared. The crowd tries to bring Norma to her senses, but she won't budge. She's determined to go down in flames. In her final words to her father, Norma admits that she is the mother of Pollione's children and asks the shocked Oroveso to protect them. Meanwhile, Norma's bravery revives Pollione's love for her. He steps to her side, and the opera closes as the two walk into the flames together.
- Courtesy of NPR
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- Run time: 3 hours and 5 minutes including one intermission
- Understand Every Word: Norma is sung in Italian, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
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- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at The Benedum Center
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
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