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Norma

by Bellini


[This synopsis, like my others, is very, very brief. The reason is that I find the normal programme note much too long, and needlessly detailed and complicated. What I want is more of an overview. If I’ve read an overview – a sort of synopsis of a synopsis – I find that, particularly with the help of surtitles, there is then absolutely no need for a blow-by-blow description of the plot.]


It is set in Gaul when the local Druids were fighting the Romans.


Norma, the daughter of the Druid king as well as the High-priestess of the Druids, has fallen in love with the Roman proconsul Pollione and had two children by him. Norma, perhaps understandably, prays for peace in the opera’s most famous aria, Casta diva.


Pollione is now in love with another Druid, Adalgisa a priestess. Adalgisa is ambivalent.


Norma is distraught when she discovers Pollione’s treachery and even considers killing their children.


Adalgisa is aghast and confused – but ultimately sides with Norma.


War is declared. Pollione is taken prisoner. Norma is to kill him but holds back. She demands that he give up Adalgisa. When he refuses, she again threatens to kill the children - as well as Adalgisa and all the Romans.


But finally she decides to sacrifice herself. She prepares to throw herself onto the funeral pyre and pleads with her father to look after the children. Pollione is repentant. They march toward the flames together.

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