San Francisco Opera on WRTI: Bellini's NORMA, September 12, 1 PM
A clandestine love affair brings two mortal enemies together during a time of war. But when Norma discovers that her beloved now loves another, a fiery new battle begins as betrayal, anguish, and fury take the reins. Vincenzo Bellini's NORMA on WRTI, Saturday, September 12, 1 to 3:30 pm. Nicola Luisotti conducts.
Listen to Sondra Radvanovsky sing the famous aria, "Casta Diva"
In one of opera’s most dazzling and demanding roles, Sondra Radvanovsky “earned a thunderous ovation...her top notes ringing and powerful, her middle range velvety, her coloratura nimble and phrasing elegant” (The New York Times), when she debuted as Norma at the Metropolitan Opera this past fall.
In Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece, a Druid high priestess betrays her people by falling in love with an occupying Roman soldier. When the soldier abandons her for another, her volatile mix of anger and guilt threatens the lives of the innocent and guilty alike.
Music Director Nicola Luisotti's superb cast also features the San Francisco Opera debut of Jamie Barton, whose Adalgisa at the Metropolitan Opera was hailed as “a revelation” (The New York Times). The “enormous, fresh, exuberant tenor” Russell Thomas (Opera News) share the role of Pollione.
Norma Sondra Radvanovsky
Adalgisa Jamie Barton
Pollione Russell Thomas
Oroveso Christian Van Horn
Clotilda Jacqueline Piccolino
Flavio AJ Glueckert
Gaul, 50 BCE, during the Roman occupation.
In a forest at night, the priest Oroveso leads the Druids in a prayer for revenge against the conquering Romans. After they have left, the Roman proconsul Pollione admits to his friend Flavio that he no longer loves the high priestess Norma, Oroveso’s daughter, with whom he has two children. He has fallen in love with a young novice priestess, Adalgisa, who returns his love. Flavio warns him against Norma’s anger. The Druids assemble and Norma prays to the moon goddess for peace. She tells her people that as soon as the moment for their uprising against the conquerors arrives, she herself will lead the revolt. At the same time, she realizes that she could never harm Pollione. When the grove is deserted, Adalgisa appears and asks for strength to resist Pollione. He finds her crying and urges her to flee with him to Rome. She agrees to renounce her vows.
Norma tells her confidante Clotilde that Pollione has been recalled to Rome. She is afraid that he will desert her and their children. Adalgisa confesses to Norma that she has a lover. Recalling the beginning of her own love affair, Norma is about to release Adalgisa from her vows and asks for the name of her lover. As Pollione appears, Adalgisa answers truthfully. Norma’s kindness turns to fury. She tells Adalgisa about her own betrayal by the Roman soldier. Pollione confesses his love for Adalgisa and asks her again to come away with him, but she refuses and vows she would rather die than steal him from Norma.
Norma, dagger in hand, tries to bring herself to murder her children in their sleep to protect them from living disgracefully without a father. She changes her mind and summons Adalgisa, advising her to marry Pollione and take the children to Rome. Adalgisa refuses: she will go to Pollione, but only to persuade him to return to Norma. Overcome by emotion, Norma embraces her, and the women reaffirm their friendship.
The Druids assemble at their altar to hear Oroveso’s announcement that a new commander will replace Pollione. Oroveso rages against the Roman oppression, but tells the Druids that they must be patient to ensure the success of the eventual revolt.
Norma is stunned to hear from Clotilde that Adalgisa’s pleas have not persuaded Pollione, and in a rage she urges her people to attack the conquerors. Oroveso demands a sacrificial victim, and just then Pollione is brought in, having profaned the sanctuary. Alone with him, Norma promises him his freedom if he will leave Adalgisa and return to her. When he refuses, Norma threatens to kill him and their children, and to punish Adalgisa. She calls in the Druids and tells them that a guilty priestess must die, then confesses that she is referring to herself. Moved by her nobility, Pollione asks to share her fate. Norma begs Oroveso to watch over her children, then leads her lover to the pyre.