The high priestess Norma is the spiritual leader of the revolt against the Roman but she is also in love with Pollione, the leader of the forces of occupation which are oppressing her people, and has already borne him two children. Her betrayal threatens the survival of the community.
Norma's discovery that Pollione is now in love with her friend Adalgisa triggers off a series of emotional reactions: after furiously calling on her people to rise in arms she ultimately decides to sacrifice her own life. Paradise for her is the haven of religious faith, but also Pollione's love and her people's well-being.
This outstanding production was originally made by Àlex Ollé for London's Royal Opera House. It takes an up-to-date approach, setting the action against the background of an oppressive religion. While exploring the clash between individual desires and those of the community, Ollé depicts religion as a binding force and a way of making sense of the world, but also as a means for repressing any individual who violates the law. Torn between her own will and her people's freedom, Norma is also the powerless captive of collective references (social mores, revered ancient symbols and beliefs). Her doubts and fragility take on present-day connotations in the face of a religion verging on fanaticism, the blind instrument of an inflexible law. Norma, an obedient daughter, betrayed lover and desperate mother, is stifled by norms.
Left with no way out, she becomes a veritable heroine who confesses her guilt and is willing to die. This tale of the purifying power of sacrifice features one of the most difficult and emblematic leading roles in the history of opera. A masterpiece of bel canto, it was only the third opera staged at the Liceu in its very first season, in 1847, and is the perfect example of a tragedy in music.