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Info or Comments about Norma Requested by a First Timer

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Since: Mar 17, 2006
Posts: 3

(Msg. 1) Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:25 am
Post subject: Info or Comments about Norma Requested by a First Timer
Archived from groups: rec>music>opera (more info?)

I am seeing Norma for the first time on Mar 22 with the Virginia Opera.

I have the synopsis and a recording with Joan Sutherland but am having
a difficult time finding info about the music - ie special things to
listen out for.

Does anyone have any notes, comments or websites that you could point
me to?

Tx Linda

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Since: Jul 11, 2005
Posts: 1237

(Msg. 2) Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:40 am
Post subject: Re: Info or Comments about Norma Requested by a First Timer [Login to view extended thread Info.]
Archived from groups: per prev. post (more info?)

Linda, whether this will help, I cannot say, but here's something I
posted on the subject of Bellini some time ago. (I'm not the author of
the bulk of the text.) Here goes:

'm posting this for Grandpa Dave for initiating the thread and in
response to
REG and Patrick CB for recognizing that Bellini represents a special
and isolated moment in the history of bel canto, REG in writing:

>But I prefer Puritani....I think it represents the
>height of bel canto without the prefiguration of where Verdi and other
>composers were "going", and in that sense I think of it as the keystone,
>architecturally, of the entire bel canto movement.

and Pat in writing:

>Norma is a super
>charged, melodic masterpiece, the likes of which we shall never have again.

Here goes:

"One of the major problems in opera from its inception almost ceases to
exist in the finest works of Bellini: the problem of action in music.
He does not solve the problem but ignores or evades it. The music of
Norma, for example, even the choruses like the procession of the Druids
and call to war, are a succession of arrested states of feeling, lyric
and intense. They exist in musical time, but seem to have little to do
with dramatic time, or time of action. To a certain extent this is
necessarily true of all opera, where action momentarily ceases to exist
as musical form fulfills itself, but rarely does the realization of
dramatic incident in music descend so close to zero as it does in
Bellini. This is not because his prose is incompetent, but because the
poetic moments are rendered with a passion so much greater that it
makes the dramatic frame that surrounds them seem unimportant. Even in
a passage of such ferocity as Norma's announcement of vengeance, 'In
mia man alfin tu sei,' the lyricism overpowers any sense of dramatic
development. That is why so little seems to happen in Norma, and
almost all of that in the final act. Norma is like a play by Racine,
Bérénice above all, in which the action is implicit in the expression
of feeling and passion. That is, in a sense, the ideal operatic style
of the early nineteenth century, and Bellini's elegiac melody could not
be reproduced--except of course by Chopin. Both Wagner and Verdi were
profoundly influenced by him, but they achieved a fusion of lyric
expression and drama on very different terms from those laid down by
Bellini. His work was not a dead end but an isolated monument."

Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation (Harvard University Press, 1995)
637, 639

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