Brown Theater | Sung in Italian with projected English translation Appropriate for all ages 3 hours and 15 minutes Composer: Bellini A love triangle with more than one twist. An ancient priestess’s betrayed love culminates in human sacrifice in this fierce and tragic story told through magnificent melodies and vocal fireworks. Setting: Gaul, around 50 b.c.e. The Druids’ high priest, Oroveso, urges his people to rebel against the occupying Roman forces. No one among the Druids, including Oroveso, is aware that their high priestess—Norma, Oroveso’s daughter—has fallen in love with the Roman proconsul, Pollione, and has borne two children, who are being cared for in secret. Wishing to protect her lover, Norma urges peace, telling her people that the Romans’ destruction will come through their own vices. Pollione has found a new love, however—a novice priestess, Adalgisa—and he intends to abandon Norma for her. Adalgisa is torn between her love for him and her desire to remain true to her vows. She confides in Norma about her turmoil, and they come to realize they are in love with the same man. Adalgisa refuses to be disloyal to Norma and rejects Pollione. Adalgisa pleads with Pollione to return to Norma and the children. When he refuses, Norma calls for war. A sacrificial victim is required, and Pollione, who has been captured trying to abduct Adalgisa, is brought in. But instead of killing him, Norma offers her followers a substitute sacrifice, a priestess who has broken her vows. She then confesses that she herself is the guilty one. She gives her children into her father’s keeping and ascends the flaming pyre that has been prepared for the sacrifice. Her noble act reawakens Pollione’s love for her, and he joins her in the flames.
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