Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The title role is generally considered the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. During the 20th century, only a small number of singers were able to assay it with success: Rosa Ponselle in the early 1920s, later Joan Sutherland in the 1950s and 1960s. Maria Callas was the famous Norma of the postwar period; she performed it many times and recorded it twice.
- Sever, Roman proconsul in Gaul (Tenor).
- Orovist, chief of the Druids (Basso).
- Norma, his daughter, an astrologer (Soprano).
- Adalgisa, priestess in the grove of the Irmin statue (Alto).
- Klotilda, Norma’s friend (Soprano).
- Flavius, Sever’s companion (Tenor).
- Children of Norma and Sever.
Act I. The grove. A secret love unites the seeress Norma with Sever, the Roman proconsul, by whom she has borne two children. Sever had loved the priestess Adalgisa before he knew Norma, but has not seen her for some time. When he finds her in the temple of Irmin his love for her returns, and they resolve to fly together. Adalgisa innocently tells Norma of her love, and the seeress curses Sever for his treachery.
Act II. Norma’s apartment. She is about to kill her children, but through maternal pity finally confides them to the care of Adalgisa. When Sever comes to take Adalgisa from the temple, Norma denounces him and he is seized by the Druids, after having refused to give up Adalgisa. Norma proclaims herself equally guilty with him. The funeral pyre is lighted, and ascending it, Norma dies with her lover.
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