1415 14th Ave. NW
CONDUCTED BY ALICE FARNHAM
DIRECTED BY NICHOLAS MUNI
Featuring powerhouse performances, Norma tells the tragic story of a dangerous love triangle that opens in the midst of impending war between the Druids and the Romans in ancient Gaul.
Norma, a powerful Druid high-priestess is driven to the brink of madness when her secret lover – a Roman enemy, threatens to leave her for one of her beautiful, young followers.
Bellini’s lush score is both graceful and seductive and builds to an explosive climax, making it a technical and emotional triumph not to be missed.
For a diva, Norma “may be the greatest part of all”
Aviva Fortunata: “…a rich and powerful voice”
Run Time: 3 hours (including 1 intermission)
Performed in Italian with English titles
Scenery and costumes designed by John Conklin. Original concept by Nicholas Muni. Scenery and costumes provided by the Cincinnati Opera.
Time: c. 100-50 BC (Roman occupation)
Deep in the forest the Druids gather around an altar and pray to their god for strength against the Roman armies. The high priest, Oroveso, leads them in their prayer. After they have said their prayers, they leave the forest. Moments later, Pollione, the Roman proconsul, arrives with his centurion, Flavious, telling him that he no longer loves Oroveso's daughter, Norma (even though she broke her vow of chastity and gave birth to two children). Pollione has fallen in love with one of the virgin temple priestesses, Adalgisa. Norma returns and prays for peace, hoping to prolong the life of her secret Roman lover, Pollione, after having visions of the Romans' defeat. When Norma leaves, Adalgisa, who has been praying below the altar, moves to the top to say her prayers. She prays for strength to resist Pollione's advances, but when he arrives, she gives in to his request and agrees to travel to Rome with him the next day.
In Norma's bed chamber, she confides to her servant that she fears Pollione loves another woman but she has no idea who this woman could be. Adalgisa arrives with a heavy heart, seeking guidance. Adalgisa tells Norma that she has been unfaithful to their gods because she has given her love to a Roman man.
Norma, recalling her own sin, is about to forgive Adalgisa until Pollione arrives seeking Adalgisa. Norma becomes angry and Adalgisa realizes what has happened. She refuses to go with Pollione because of her loyalty to Norma.
Pacing beside the beds of her small children late that evening, Norma is overcome with the urge to murder them so Pollione can never have them. However, Norma's love for them is too strong, and so she summons Adalgisa to take them to Pollione. She will give up his love so that Adalgisa can marry him and raise Norma's children as her own. Adalgisa refuses, and instead, tells Norma that she will speak with Pollione on Norma's behalf and convince him to return to her.
Back in the forest, Oroveso announces to the Druids that Pollione has been replaced by a new leader and that they should refrain from revolting for now. When Adalgisa finally shows up, she brings bad news; her attempt to persuade Pollione to return to Norma was unsuccessful.
Norma then calls for war against the Romans. Oroveso demands a life to be sacrificed so that their gods will grant them victory. Guards interrupt Oroveso when they capture Pollione desecrating their temple. Oroveso declares Pollione as the sacrifice, but Norma stalls. Pulling him aside, she tells him that he can have his freedom if he gives up his love for Adalgisa and returns to her instead. Pollione rejects her offer. Out of despair, she confesses her sins in front of the Druids and offers herself as the sacrifice. Pollione cannot believe this and falls in love with her again. He rushes to the altar and takes his place by her side.