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A double Norma at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa
On stage two different versions of Vincenzo Bellini's masterpiece with two different casts; on the podium Riccardo Minasi who also edited the critical edition
Organized by: Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa

Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa Presents

"Opera Season 2022/23"
A Norm singular and unmissable is the one proposed by theOpera Carlo Felice of Genoa from 2 to 11 May 2023: the masterpiece of Vincenzo Bellini it will be staged – this is the novelty – in two different versions, presented in a triplet of consecutive dates by two different casts, one entrusting the role of the protagonist to the mezzo-soprano voice, the other to the soprano.

The two singing companies are composed of the mezzo-soprano Vasilisa Berzhanskaya and from the soprano River Guild who will alternate in the role of Norma, from Carmela Remigio is Anna Dowsley (Adalgisa), Stefano Pop is Antonio Corianò (Pollio), Alessio Cacciamani is Mariano Buccino (Oroveso) and moreover Simona Di Capua (Clotilde) e Blagoj Nacoski (Flavius).

On the podium, at the helm of theOrchestra and Chorus of the Carlo Felice Opera, the musical director of the Genoese Lirico Riccardo Minasi; Stefania Bonfadelli signs the direction, the scenes are by Serena Rocco, the costumes of Valeria Donata Bettella, the choreography by Ran Arthur Braun, the lights of Daniele Naldi; Choir Master is Claudio Marino Moretti. The staging is created by the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa in co-production with the Fondazione Teatro Comunale of Bologna

The unprecedented initiative to bring the double version of Norma to the stage stems from the musicological excavation which is at the basis of thecritical edition of the work, edited by the same Richard Minasi with Maurice Biondi: “Norma – explains the director who has been dedicated to researching Bellini's masterpiece since 2006 – is a particularly tangled case. Unfortunately many materials have been lost: for example the choir War, War we do not have the autograph version because the pages were torn out, but that of a copyist. Bellini left an infinite number of doubts and second thoughts, and probably never completed the definitive version. The official one which is generally performed is based on a Ricordi edition of 1915 and differs from the autograph which is made up of two volumes containing various files assembled at a later time. The differences are in the instrumentation, in the 'Chaste diva', in the choir 'War War!' and in the final trio of the I act”.

There has always been much debate around the study of vocal registers in this work. The first interpreter of the Norma character, Giuditta Pasta, indeed had a unique vocality, with a singularly wide range, and in Bellini's writing the vocal line of the role can adapt to both mezzo-soprano and soprano registers. With the aim of highlighting all the possibilities of vocal range, the critical edition edited by Minasi includes both variants, with the necessary adjustments in the orchestration.

“This production by Norma – underlined the Superintendent Claudio Orazi – “constitutes our second commitment of a musicological nature on Bellini, after the original edition of 'Bianca and Fernando'. Even an opera foundation, without having a dedicated festival, can operate in this field by promoting ever greater knowledge of our great repertoire".

“Norma is a work by women – she added Stefania Bonfadelli, soprano who has dedicated herself to directing for some years – an almost unique example in the theater of female solidarity. Adalgisa is not Norma's antagonist, the moment the two women discover they love the same man (an enemy) there is no confrontation but a mutual declaration of friendship. Norma is her own antagonist”.

(In the images, the two protagonists of Norma, the mezzo-soprano Vasilisa Berzhanskaya – above – and the soprano Gilda Fiume)
A double Norma at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa

Other information of interest

The work

Norm, antepenultimate work of Vincenzo Bellini, was staged for the first time on 26 December 1831 to the La Scala Theater in Milan. Lyrical tragedy in two acts on a libretto by Happy Romans, the work is based on the tragedy of the same name by Alexandre Soumet, which in turn reworks the plot linked to the myth of Medea, moving the action to Gaul occupied by the Romans.

The plot

Act I
The Gauls are gathered in the forest sacred to the god Irminsul and, led by Oroveso, praise the liberation from the Roman yoke. Meanwhile Pollione, who has also entered the sacred wood, confides in his friend Flavio that he has fallen in love with a young novice from the temple of Irminsul, Adalgisa, and that he wants to leave Norma. Meanwhile she intervenes in the assembly of the Gauls explaining that the gods have revealed to her that Rome will have to fall, but not at that moment and not by their hand. With a prayer to the moon he manages to appease souls.

Adalgisa asks Norma for an interview to open her heart to her and confess that she has broken the vow of chastity, without however revealing the name of the man she loves. Norma, who recognizes her own feelings and sin in the novice, releases her from her vows. Then he asks her who the lover is and Adalgisa points to Pollione, who is arriving at that very moment. Furious, Norma reveals everything to Adalgisa, who indignantly rejects Pollione.

Act II
In her home, Norma, shocked by the revelation, initially meditates on taking revenge by killing the two children she had from Pollione, but then gives in to maternal feelings. Determined to commit suicide, she summons Adalgisa and begs her to adopt the children and bring them to Rome, after marrying Pollione. But Adalgisa refuses and indeed promises Norma to convince Pollione to return to her, dissuading her from committing suicide. However, when the high priestess learns that Adalgisa's attempt has not had the desired effect, she, who had always opposed the will of revolt of her people, calls the Gauls to rally and proclaims war on the Romans. Oroveso then asks her to indicate the sacrificial victim to be immolated to the god, when news arrives that a Roman has entered the enclosure of the priestesses: it is Pollione, who has come to kidnap Adalgisa. Norma is about to stab him with a dagger, but then stops, invites everyone to come out on the pretext of questioning him and, left alone with Pollione, offers him her life on condition that he abandon Adalgisa. The man refuses and Norma calls her friends together; he has decided who will be the sacrificial victim: a priestess who has broken her sacred vows and betrayed her country. He is about to pronounce Adalgisa's name when he realizes that Adalgisa's fault is his and, in general dismay, he pronounces his own name. Moved, Pollione understands Norma's greatness and decides to die with her. In secret, Norma confides in Oroveso that she is a mother and begs him to take care of the children so that they can save themselves together with Clotilde. Then he goes to the stake with the man he loves.


Vasilisa Berzhanskaya
River Guild (3, 6, 11)
Carmela Remigio
Anna Dowsley (3, 6, 11)
Stefan Pop
Antonio Corianò (3, 6, 11) 
Alessio Cacciamani
Mariano Buccino (3, 6, 11)
Simona Di Capua
Blagoj Nacoski

Concert master
and conductor
Richard Minasi
Direction Stefania Bonfadelli
Scenes Serena Rocco
Costumes Valeria Donata Bettella
Choreographies Ran Arthur Braun
Lights Daniel Naldi

Orchestra, Chorus and Technicians of the Opera Carlo Felice Genova
Choir Master Claudio Marino Moretti

New set-up Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa
in co-production with Municipal Theater Foundation of Bologna


Opera tragedy in two acts
Music by Vincenzo Bellini

Booklet of Felice Romani
from Norma, or Infanticide by Louis-Alexandre Soumet


2, 3, 5, 6, 10 and 11 May 2023 at 8 pm (except Saturday 6 at 3 pm)

Who organizes

Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of GenoaThe Carlo Felice Theatre,… more

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