“If I were shipwrecked, I would leave all of my other operas and try to save Norma.”
- Vincenzo Bellini
Norma is perhaps the opera that best exemplifies the great bel canto style and Bellini’s most successful composition.
Set in Roman-occupied Gaul, the Druid priestess Norma has consorted with the enemy, the Roman leader Pollione, and has secretly borne him children. But his interests have shifted to Adalgisa, one of the temple virgins, and passions flare. Norma is driven to murderous jealousy by her lover’s infidelity and sees to it that the guilty atone for their crimes.
This opera has its scenes of pageantry and moments of ringing grandeur, but it by far rises to its greatest lyrical heights in the celebrated aria, “Casta diva.” The spectacular conclusion of Norma has been called one of the finest things in all opera.