Norma, opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with libretto by Felice Romani after Norma, ossia L'infanticidio by Alexandre Soumet. First produced at La Scala on December 26, 1831. It is generally regarded as an example of the supreme height of the Bel canto tradition.
The title role is generally considered one of the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. The role was created for Giuditta Pasta who also created the role of Amina in La Sonnambula.
During the 20th century, only a small number of singers were able to master it with success: Rosa Ponselle in the early 1920s, later Joan Sutherland in the 1950s and 1960s. Maria Callas was the most famous Norma of the postwar period; she performed it more than 70 times and made official recordings in 1954 and 1961.
Act I. The grove. A secret love unites the seeress Norma with Pollione, the Roman proconsul, by whom she has borne two children. But Pollione has grown tired of the aging druid priestess and has fallen in love with Adalgisa, a young temple virgin. Despite Adalgisa's piety and virtue, she agrees to flee to Rome with Pollione. Adalgisa innocently tells Norma of her love, and Norma curses Pollione for his treachery.
Act II. Norma’s apartment. She is about to kill her children, but through maternal pity finally confides them to the care of Adalgisa. When Pollione comes to take Adalgisa from the temple, Norma denounces him and he is seized by the Druids, after having refused to give up Adalgisa. Norma proclaims herself equally guilty with him. The funeral pyre is lighted, and ascending it, Norma dies with her lover.