Today's Opera: Norma
Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
Oroveso seeks to rouse his
countrymen to rebellion against the Romans. Pollione now confides in Flavio
that he no longer loves Norma, in spite of the fact that, unknown to everyone,
she has born him two sons. Norma tries to prevent rebellion, to protect Pollione,
prophesying the fall of Rome through its own internal weaknesses. Pollione
persuades Adalgisa to run away to Rome with him. Norma, at home, knows
that Pollione plans to leave her, but does not know the name of her rival.
Adalgisa admits her infidelity to her people to Norma, who eventually
understands that Adalgisa is the new object of Pollione's affections. When
Adalgisa realizes the situation, she rejects Pollione. Norma considers
killing her sons and then asking Adalgisa to go with Pollione and be a mother
to her children in her place. Adalgisa refuses to be disloyal to Norma, but
goes to Pollione to recall him to his duty. He will not hear her, and Norma now
calls for open revolt. Meanwhile Pollione, attempting to abduct Adalgisa, has
been taken prisoner, and will be put to death. Norma offers in his place one
who has broken faith with her people, herself. A funeral pyre is erected, which
she mounts, joined in her final
moments by Pollione.
Norma occupies a very
particular place in operatic repertoire, a dramatic work of lyrical beauty, not
least in the most fanous of Norma's arias, Casta diva (Chaste
goddess), her first-act prayer to the moon. Oroveso calls the Druids to watch
for the new moon in Ite sul colle, o Druidi (Go to the hills,
O Druids) and in the second act he warns of Pollione's possible successor,
inveighing against Roman tyranny in Ah! del Tebro al giogo
indegno (Ah! To the disgraceful yoke of Rome). Norma has
notable duets with Adalgisa and with Pollione, revealing different aspects
of her tragic character.
Music historian Jeffrey Engel will present today’s opera talk, offering historical context for the composer and the opera story. In Paris for 14 years, Mr. Engel studied cello, art history and earned diplomas in French. As a cellist he played with orchestras in rance, including the Paris Opera, performed in chamber ensembles and taught in municipal conservatories. A graduate of Ithaca College, & a teacher at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Mr. Engel brings a rich knowledge of music history to each lecture, with musical excerpts.
Registration is appreciated.