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26 June, 2013
|Vincenzo Bellini: Norma|
This is the first time that the excellent series of
Cambridge Opera Handbooks has put together a guide to a bel
canto opera. The longest chapter gives a detailed synopsis
of the plot, but the most helpful chapter gathers together
sources for the libretto, information that is difficult to
find elsewhere. (Librettist Felice Romani was a classical
scholar, and the story has parallels with the Medea myth.)
Also of interest is a selection of critical reactions from
other composers. Mahler, we learn, was moved to tears by the
work, and the impact on Wagner is given its due. Two of the
analytical chapters concentrate almost entirely on the first
scene, and more of this would have been welcome. The final
chapter briefly discusses five interpreters of the title role.