Norma is an opera – but not just any opera.
It is the most difficult to sing for the female performer, the soprano who plays the role of Norma.
So difficult that at its premiere, the singer could not hold it – it had to be lowered by a semitone: then, at the 4th performance, Norma was an incredible success.
This is the singing part of the role.
But of course, Norma is a role.
It is therefore necessary to be beautiful, proud, vindictive – and in love to the end – with this particularly demanding song performance.
Norma is the story of a tragedy.
The story takes place in the ancient times of Gaul, when Gaul was populated by pagan and demanding gods.
Norma was a priestess – she owed her love and honor to her gods.
Then came the Romans – unchallenged victors.
The proconsul Pollione saw Norma – and loved her.
She loved him in return – with an absolute, passionate, boundless love. They had two children – and kept their love secret, since Norma was not allowed to love a man.
Alas, time kills the greatest loves – it seems.
Norma grew older – she was less beautiful.
Pollione got used to her.
He was less loving.
A young girl, whom Norma loved, became a priestess in her turn. She was young, beautiful, fresh, happy to live.
Pollione desired her.
Norma tries to convince him – she stoops to beg him not to stop loving her.
He refuses – he finds himself very much in love with the girl.
What will Norma do?
She has lost everything – her love for her Gods, their confidence, the love of the one she adores.
She could leave.
She could take revenge.
She could be Medea.
She wanted to kill their sons – but she couldn’t. She asked her rival to take them with her and give them to their father
Not all women in love are alike.
She did not want to take this kind of revenge.
She accepted her complete defeat.
She denounced herself as a perjurer to her Gods.
She confessed to betraying them for a man.
The stake was the punishment: she accepted this death.
But beware – it was not so easy – she will accept to denounce herself only when he accepts to beg her – then he begs her to spare this young woman he newly loves.
So she chose death.
He will die with her – it seems that he doesn’t love her anymore – and this double death becomes particularly atrocious.
This is not a “beautiful” love story at all.
It is sad, because it has the sound of stories we may know – the ones where one’s love dies when the other doesn’t understand.
That’s why it’s necessary to show – what’s worse than living under the illusion that all love is eternal and reciprocal?
And besides, what is true love?
Works like Norma allow us to think about these things – and thinking about them is already much better than being subjected to a priori ideas about what love should be, we don’t know why.