The Paris Review

Norma Does Not Lie: On Believing Women

Sondra Radvanovsky and Joseph Calleja. Photo: Ken Howard for the Metropolitan Opera.

Ten years ago, the first time I saw Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 opera, Norma, at the Met, I noticed one quirky bit of stage business. In the opera, the Roman proconsul Pollione has come to 50 Gaul to pacify the locals. He’s also pursuing a young, lovely priestess, Adalgisa. But his buddy Flavio calls him out: Pollione has already seduced the high priestess, Norma. Norma broke her vows and betrayed the revolution for Pollione’s sake—and gave birth to their two sons. So what about Norma and the kids?

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