Felice Romani, the librettist for Bellini’s greatest masterpiece, Norma, was inspired by Soumet’s tragedy about the child murderer Norma and Chateaubriand’s novel Les Martyrs. Romani changed the wild celtic woman into a multi facetted character: the seer Norma became involved with her people’s deadly enemy: she has two secret children with the Roman proconsul Pollione. But he is now attracted to another, younger woman: he has been summoned back to Rome and intends to take the novice Adalgisa with him. Torn between love and her sacred vow of chastity, Adalgisa seeks Norma out and tells her all. After she came close to killing her children out of desperation and all hopes have been dashed that Pollione will come back to her, she proclaims war on the Romans. Pollione is attacked in the temple and sentenced to death. Norma, who still loves him, tells her horrified people of her indiscretion and offers her life instead of his. She ends up on the funeral pyre.
From June 10 – 27 at Oper Frankfurt, Elza van den Heever stars in the title role, with Stefano La Colla as Pollione and Gaëlle Arquez as Adalgisa and Antonino Fogliani on the podium.
Of Ms. van den Heever’s Norma at Dallas Opera, Scott Cantrell from Dallas News said in his review: “As the eponymous Druid high priestess, Elza van den Heever’s Norma has it all: the power when needed, the nuanced intimacy elsewhere; coloratura of seemingly effortless fluidity; tenderness and vulnerability and scorching fury. Even at full tilt, the voice is never raw or edgy.”
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