Norma is Bellini’s eighth opera, and for it he collaborated with Felice Romani in writing the libretto, based on the play by the French writer Alexandre Sourmet, Norma o l’infanticide, who, in turn, looked to the classics and found his best source of inspiration in the myth of Medea.
Despite the resounding failure of its premiere at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the opera is charged with emotion, melodic richness and theatricality, making it considered the masterpiece of the composer from Catania and one of the most beloved titles of opera fans.
The work stars one of the most difficult characters to interpret in the bel canto repertoire. Norma is a complex, multi-faceted figure: she is a high priestess, with the religious and political power that goes with it; she is a mother, but must hide her motherhood; and she is the lover of the wrong man. All these situations pushed to the limit require a dramatic interpretation and vocal agility of great demand, which on this occasion was defended by Maria Agresta in the title role.
Gregory Kunde gives life to the Roman Pollione and is joined by mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes in the role of Adalgisa.
Norma was one of the few titles that the composer Richard Wagner, a merciless detractor of Italian opera, respected and admired, to the point of composing an aria for the character of Oroveso in imitation of Bellini’s style.
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