The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 12, Episode 1 - Bellini: Norma - full transcript

Go to the hills, O Druids....

Look to the heavens and see the silvery disc as it rises.

Watch as the new moon is revealed!

As the moon grants us its first chaste smile...

...let the sacred shield be struck three times.

Will Norma preside over our sacred rites?

Yes, Norma will preside.

O mighty God, fill Norma with the power of thy prophecy.

Irminsul, god of vengeance,
fill her with hatred for the Romans...

...a mighty anger that will shatter
this deadly truce which binds us.

Thou shalt speak in anger from these sacred oaks...

...and free us from the tyranny of the Roman eagle.

Let Irminsul's mighty thunder repel the Romans.

Let its terrible roar resound in the city of the Caesars.

The city of the Caesars shall be destroyed!

O sacred moon, hasten to appear.

Norma shall come to the altar.

O moon, appear to us.

The voices have died away.

The path through the woods is now clear.

Death is in those woods.
Norma has warned you.

That name you speak chills my heart.

Your lover? The mother of your children?

Reproach me if you will.
I know I deserve it.

But the flame of that love has been
extinguished by her cruel god.

I see the abyss open before me,
and I cast myself into its depths.

Do you love another?

Speak softly!
Yes, another�Adalgisa.

She has the innocence of a flower, pure and loving.

Though Adalgisa serves this god of blood...

...she is a ray of starlight in a stormy sky.

My poor friend.

Does she love you?

I am certain of it.

Do you not fear Norma's wrath?

It will be terrible, no matter how great my remorse.

I had a dream....

Tell me.

To think of it makes me shudder.

I dreamed I was with Adalgisa in Rome.
We were at the marriage altar.

She was dressed in white, with flowers in her hair.

The sound of the wedding hymns,
the perfume of incense...

...enraptured my senses with the ecstasy of love.

My senses were enraptured with the ecstasy of love.

Suddenly, a terrifying shadow fell between us.

Smoke enfolded us like a great Druid cloak.

Lightning struck the altar, and the sky darkened.

A silent, tomb-like horror overwhelmed us.

Suddenly, my adored Adalgisa vanished.

Far away I heard a desperate wail,
and the cries of my children.

Then a chilling voice echoed through the temple...

"See the vengeance Norma wreaks
on her faithless lover."

Do you hear?

Norma is coming from the temple to perform the rites.

The moon is rising, let all unbelievers depart.

Listen to me.


We must go!

I shall defeat them.

They must not find us here.

These barbarians plot against us, but I will prevail.

Come! We must flee, or they will find us!

A power greater than theirs protects me...

...the thought of the one I adore.
An ardent love that burns within me.

If their god tries to take her from me...

...I shall burn their wicked forest
and destroy their blasphemous altar.

Norma approaches!

Her hair is adorned with the sacred verbena.

In her hand, like a crescent moon,
a golden sickle shines in splendor.

Norma comes, and the star of Rome hides itself in fear.

Irminsul blazes across the sky, a comet heralding death.

Whose rebellious voices are crying
for war at the holy altar?

Who dares to question the all-seeing Norma?

Who presumes to hasten the fate of Rome?

The fate of Rome is not determined by man.

How long must they oppress us?

Have not our forests and temples
been sullied enough by Rome's armies?

The avenging sword must be taken up.

Let it be brandished at last!

But if you raise it before
the appointed time, it will shatter.

The day of vengeance is not at hand.

Rome is more powerful than Sigambria.

Then tell us, what is our fate?

I have learned the secrets held in the book of heaven.

The name of Rome is inscribed on the page of death.

Rome will fall, but not by your hands.

Rome will be consumed by
her own corruption, a city laid waste.

Await that hour, that fatal destiny
decreed by heaven alone.

Until then, live in peace....

I will prepare to cut the sacred mistletoe.

Chaste goddess....

Chaste goddess,
who bathes these sacred trees in silvery light.

Turn your face to us, radiant and unveiled by clouds.

Turn your face to us, radiant and unveiled by clouds.

Chaste goddess,
bathe this sacred place in thy silvery light.

Turn thy serene face to us, unveiled, pure, and radiant.

Temper the burning hearts of thy people.

Calm their fury.

Let thy peace, which reigns in heaven, enfold the earth.

The rite has ended.
Let unbelievers leave the sacred wood.

When Irminsul in his anger
demands Roman blood, my voice shall resound.

Then no Roman will escape the deserved slaughter.

The first to be killed will be their leader, Pollione!

Yes, he must die.

(But my heart could not bear it.)

Return to me, my love, and I shall
defend you against the whole world.

Return, and in your warmth
I shall find life, home, and heaven.

The day of vengeance is slow in coming...

...but a wrathful god will hasten Rome's defeat.

Return to me, my love, and I shall
defend you against the whole world.

Return, and in your warmth I shall
find life, home, and heaven.

The wrathful day is near,
which will condemn the power of Rome.

Come back! Be once more as you were
when first I gave my heart to you!

The grove is deserted.

The rites are finished.

Now I can sigh with relief,
entering this place that I have profaned.

Here I met Pollione, who has caused me
to betray my temple and my god.

I must never see him again.

Vain resolve.

An irresistible force draws me here.

My heart summons his beloved face.

The breeze that caresses my cheek
echoes the loving sound of his voice.

O God, protect me!

Watch over me, I beg you.

O God, protect me!

O God, I am lost.

Mighty God, have mercy. I am lost.

I am lost.

There she is. Leave me.
Do not try to stop me.

It is you.

Why do you weep?

I was praying.
Go, leave me to pray.

You worship a terrible god who cruelly
denies your desires...and mine.

The god you should invoke is Love.

Love? Stop! I will not listen.

You try to escape, but where could
you fly that I would not find you?

To the temple,
and the sacred altar to which I am sworn.

To the altar? But what of our love?


Go, cruel woman, to your pitiless god,
and offer my blood as a gift.

Let it be spilled, but I shall never leave you.


You were promised to your god,
but you gave your heart to me.

You do not know
what it would cost me to give you up.

You do not know the price I would pay
if I renounced your love.

And do not know
what pain my love has cost me.

I have sullied the altar at which I was once so happy.

The altar at which I once prayed in innocence....

I prayed to heaven and cherished my god.

But now, guilt veils heaven and god from my sight.

Guilt veils heaven and god from my sight.

I offer you a purer heaven and
holier gods in Rome, where I must go.

Then you are leaving?

At daybreak.

And what of me?

You will come with me.

Love is more sacred than your rites.
Give yourself to me.

No, do not say that.

I will repeat it until you listen.

Let me be.

Come, come with me.

I cannot. Heaven, protect me.

You cannot give up our love.

Come with me to Rome.
There we will find joy, love and life.

Together we will share all of life's pleasures.

Do you not hear that voice in your heart
promising eternal happiness?

Listen to that voice.

Embrace me as your husband.

I cannot resist his voice, even in this holy place.

I see his face even when I gaze at the altar.

He conquers my tears and triumphs over my grief.

O God, free me from this sweet spell,
or else forgive my sin.

�Have pity!

�Come, my love!

Cruel one! You would desert me?

For pity's sake, let me be.

Can you forget everything?

I beg must go. want to leave me?

I cannot.

I want to go with you....

Meet me here tomorrow. Will you?

I promise.

What joy! You'll remember?

I'll remember.

I forsake my god,
but to you I shall always be faithful.

Your love gives me courage to defy your god.

Go, hide them both.

Now I fear even to embrace them.

Why do you reject your own sons?

My heart is being torn apart.

I feel both love and hatred for my own children!

I suffer when I see them...I suffer when I do not.

They are at once my joy and my grief.

And you, a mother....

If only I were not!

How you must suffer.

You cannot imagine, dear Clotilde!

Pollione is recalled to Rome.

Will you go with him?

He hides his thoughts from me.

Could he flee and leave me here?

Could he forget his sons?

Do you believe he would?

I dare not.

It is too painful.
Too terrible to doubt him.

Someone is coming.
Go, take them away.


(Heart, take courage.)

Come closer.

Why are you trembling?

I am told you wish to discuss a grave matter with me.

I cannot bear to face you.

Give me courage to freely reveal my heart to you.


What troubles you?

It is love.

Do not be angry!
I have tried to resist it.

But he has triumphed
over my strength, over my remorse.

I have just sworn an oath to him
to desert the temple... betray our altar,
and abandon my homeland.

Ah, unfortunate girl, have clouds
darkened your young life so soon?

And how was this flame of love kindled?

By a single glance, a single sigh,
as I prayed at the altar.

The prayer froze on my lips when
I looked up and saw his handsome face.

I saw in him the promise of another heaven.

(Oh, such memories.)

(I felt the same then,
enraptured by the sight of him.)

Are you listening to me?

Yes, go on.

We met in secret at the temple
and my passion was kindled.

(So, too, did my love grow.)

"Come," he said, "let me adore you."

"Let me but breathe the air..."

(So, too, was I seduced.)

"...breathe the air made sweet by your sighs."

"My beauty, let me kiss you."

(So, too, did he speak to me
and find the path to my heart.)

His sweet words were like music.

In his smiling eyes,
I saw a new, more beautiful sun.

(So did I fall under his spell.)

I was lost and I am, still.

No more tears.

I need your forgiveness.

I will be merciful.

Help me.

Do not weep.

Comfort me or reproach me...

...but save me from myself.

Save me from my heart!

Do not cry!

You are not yet bound
to the altar by an eternal oath.

Oh, heaven! Repeat those blessed words.

Take heart and embrace me.
You are forgiven.

I free you from your vows...
I break your bonds.

Be with your loved one...
you will be happy once more.

Repeat those joyous words that relieve my suffering.

You restore me to life by declaring
that my love is not a sin.

You will be happy once more.

I understand your love, and I forgive you.

I free you from your vows...I break your bonds.

But tell me, who is this son of Irminsul?

He was not born here.
Rome is his homeland.

Rome? Who is he?

It is he.

Why are you angry?

Him, you say? Can it be him?

Why, yes....

What have you done?

You tremble. For whom?

Do not tremble, traitor. Fear not for her.

She is not to blame.
You are the guilty one.

Fear for yourself, for your sons....

What do I hear?

Speak! You are turn away!

You are the victim of a cruel and desperate deception.

Better for you to have died
than to have ever known him.

He will be the source of endless weeping.

He betrayed my love as he will betray yours.

Oh, how horrible! Such terrible darkness!

My heart trembles to ask...
and trembles to hear the truth.

Heartbroken, now I understand.

Only endless misery can await me
if he has deceived me so.

Norma, do not turn your scorn upon me.

Your anger cannot wound me now.

Leave this innocent one in peace.

The shame is mine, not hers.

Spare her my humiliation.

Heaven alone will judge my guilt.

�He will cause you endless grief.
�Oh, such misery!

�He will betray your love.
�He has deceived me.


Let me go! Leave me!
Unfaithful husband!

Those vows are forgotten.

Leave me.

Now I am yours alone.

Go, traitor.

It is my fate to love you.
It is my destiny to reject her.

Fulfill that destiny and go with him.

Follow him.

Never! I would rather die.

Leave me. Forsake your sons,
your promises, your honor!

I curse you and your guilty love.

Leave me. Deny your sons....

My hatred will follow you on the winds, over the seas!

My vengeance will find you
and torment you night and day!

�Rage on then and curse me.
�Norma, I cannot be the cause...

�This love is greater than you or me.
�...the cause of such suffering.

�Let me be cursed, then.
�Keep this traitor from me.

�No god could fashion such torment.
�I cannot bear to be the cause...

�No punishment could be greater.
�...the cause of such suffering.

I curse you and your guilty love.

No god could fashion greater torment.

Norma! To the altar.

The thunderous voice of Irminsul has spoken.
To the sacred altar!

They are asleep.

They will not see the hand that strikes them.

No remorse. They must not live.

They must not suffer here or in Rome.

Shame, or worse,
awaits them as slaves to a stepmother.

No, never!

They must die.

But I cannot do it.

I hair stands on end....

To murder my own children!

These children, who have been my only joy....

In their smile, I found heaven's forgiveness.

Must I kill them?

What is their crime?

They are Pollione's sons...that is their crime.

To me, they are already dead.
Let them be dead for him.

And may his grief know no limit.

No! They are my children!


Bring Adalgisa.

She is outside, weeping and praying.

Let me atone for my sin...

...and then die.

You called me?

Why are you so pale?

It is the pallor of death.

I must confess my shame to you.

Grant me this last favor
if my suffering means anything to you.

I promise.

Swear to me.

I swear.

Only my death can purify the earth,
which has been polluted by my crimes.

I cannot take my poor children with me.

I entrust my sons to you.

Oh, heaven! To me?

Take them to the Roman camp, to�
I cannot speak his name.

What are you asking of me?

May he prove a less cruel husband to you.

I shall forgive him...and die.

My husband? Never.

For his children's sake, I beg you.

Take them with you.
Protect and care for them.

I ask for them no glory, no honors.
Those will be for your own sons.

I ask only that my children not be
abandoned or sold into slavery.

It was for you that he betrayed me.

Let my anguish move you.

Norma, you will always be beloved as a mother to me.

Keep your children. I will never go with him.

You swore....

Yes, to make you happy.

I shall go to his camp
and tell the traitor of your suffering.

The compassion I feel will give strength to my plea.

His better nature will be awakened.

I know his heart, and there you shall reign again.

Shall I beg him? No, never.

Norma, give up your pride.

No more...go.

Norma, look upon your dear children.

If you have no pity for yourself,
at least be moved to pity for them.

Why do you weaken me with such tender feelings?

No more illusions...
no more hope for one about to die.

�See your children before you.
�Why do you weaken my resolve?

�Norma, look upon your dear children.
�I must be steadfast.

�Let pity for them move you.
�Give no hope to one about to die.

Please, listen to me!

Leave me alone. He loves you.

And already repents.

�And you?
�I loved him...but now I feel nothing.

And what will you do?

I'll restore him to you and flee
forever from the eyes of men.

You have convinced me.

I have found a friend once more.

We shall be companions until our last hour.

Let us find refuge together...

...enduring the cruelties of fortune
as long as our hearts still beat.

Together until our last hour...together in death.

Together, we'll face the world's trials...

...enduring the cruelties of fortune,
with our loving hearts beating as one.

Pollione is still encamped nearby.

That much is clear...the war chants,
clatter of weapons, and waving banners tells us so.

We must not let this delay weaken our resolve.

We will wait. We will not let this delay deter us.

Let our hearts silently prepare for our task.

In silence we will prepare to fulfill our mighty task.

In silence we will prepare to fulfill our mighty task.

Warriors, I had hoped to bring you better news.

I hoped to share in your noble anger and ardor...

...but God does not will it.

Is the hated Pollione not returning to Rome?

A more feared and ruthless Roman will replace him.

Norma knows this?
And still she speaks of peace?

Her thoughts remain hidden from me.

What should we do?

Submit to fate, and disband.

Leave no trace of our plan's failure.

Submit and dissemble?

A cruel command, I agree.

I, too, suffer under the Roman yoke
and long to throw it off.

But in this, heaven is our enemy.

We must make a show of humility.

We will hide our burning hatred from the Romans.

Let us swallow our hatred
so that Rome thinks it is dead.

Soon it will be awakened and blaze forth,
stronger than before!

When the sacred altar
summons us to battle, woe to Rome!

Until then we will hide the fury
that rages in our hearts.

He will come back to me.

I have faith in Adalgisa.

He will come back to me, repentant, suppliant, loving.

The black cloud that weighs upon me will disappear.

The sun will smile on me
as on the first day of our love.

Norma, you must be brave.

What are you saying? Speak!

Adalgisa's pleas were in vain.

Why did I trust her?

Made more beautiful by her grief,
she went to him and plotted against me.

She has returned in anguish,
begging to renew her vows.

And he?

He has sworn to take her away.

The traitor goes too far.
Now he will suffer the wrath of my vengeance.

Roman blood shall flow in torrents.

The god calls his people!

Norma, you struck the shield of Irminsul.

What does the god demand?




But you admonished us to embrace peace.

Now I want fury, slaughter, and death!

Let our cry of war and vengeance rise to the heavens.

To battle! May our warriors outnumber the oaks!

We will fall upon the Romans' throats
as hungry wolves upon the flock.

Our weapons are bathed in blood.

Forest streams become crimson torrents!

Slaughter, extermination, vengeance!
Let our destiny be fulfilled!

Let Rome's legions be mown down like grain.

Wings clipped, talons torn out, Rome's eagle lies dying.

Irminsul comes to us on the rays
of the sun to behold our triumph.

Irminsul comes to us on the rays of the sun... behold our triumph.

Will you perform the ritual, Norma?

Who is to be the victim?

I have chosen.
Our altar has never lacked for victims.

But what is this commotion?

The temple's sanctuary has been defiled by a Roman.

A Roman?

What? Could it be him?

They bring him here.

It's him!

Now I am avenged.

Blasphemer, why do you challenge the wrath of Irminsul?

I would rather die than answer.

It is my duty to strike.

What's this?

Yes, it is I.

Kill him. Let his death appease our god.

You hesitate?

I cannot do it.

What is it? Why do you falter?

Can I feel pity?


I must question him.

A traitorous priestess is his accomplice.

Leave us.

What will she do?

I tremble!

You are at my mercy.
I alone can set you free.

But you must not.

I shall.

But how?


Swear by your god,
and on the lives of your children...

...swear never to see Adalgisa again,
nor to try to take her away from here.

I will give you your life and freedom...

...and never see you again.


No. I am not a coward.


I shall die first.

Do you not see that my fury is greater than yours?

I wait for it to strike.

Do you not see that with this dagger, your children�

What are you saying?

Yes, I once threatened them.
You drove me to such desperation.

I spared them then, but now nothing holds me back.

In one instant...

...I could forget that I am a mother.

Plunge your dagger into their father's heart instead.

Spare them. I alone must die.

All of Rome, by the hundreds,
shall be struck down and destroyed.

And Adalgisa, false to her vows...

...Adalgisa shall be punished�
burned alive on the sacred pyre.

Kill me, but spare her, for pity's sake.

At last, you beg...

...but too late.

Through her, I can strike your heart.

Already I feed upon the anguish in your tortured eyes.

At last, I can make you suffer as deeply as I have.

Be satisfied with my terror, with my tears.

Vent your fury on me, but spare this innocent one.

Already I feed upon the anguish
in your tortured eyes.

At last, I can make you suffer as much as I have.

�Cruel woman! Have your revenge on me.
�I will make you suffer as I have.

Give me the dagger.

You dare? Stand back.

The dagger!

Sons of Irminsul, return!

I have a victim to appease Irminsul's wrath.

A priestess has broken her vows,
betraying the god of our ancestors.

Sacrilege! O fury!

Prepare the pyre.

I beg you, spare her! Norma, have pity!

Who is she?

Hear me!

(How can I accuse her of my own guilty sin?)

Speak, who is it?

Do not say it!

It is I.

Yes, I...prepare the pyre.

We're frozen with horror.

My heart fails me.

Our priestess, guilty?

Do not believe her.

Norma does not lie.

Oh, what horror!

What a heart you betrayed.
What a heart you lost.

In this dread hour, see what you have done.

You tried to flee from me...

...but you are bound to me forever.

A god stronger than you...

...destines us to be united in life and death.

In the flames, in the grave, we will forever be one.

Ah, too late I come to truly know you.
Yet now I lose you.

In my remorse, my love is reborn...
a more desperate, fervent love.

Let us die together.

And my last words will be that I love you.

But in death, you must not hate me.

Before we die, forgive me.

Norma, return to your senses. Reassure us!

I am the guilty one.

Norma, we beseech you!

Tell us that you are delirious,
that your words are madness.

Irminsul himself has heard you and does not believe.

The thunder of his judgment is silent.

Yes, we will die together...

...and forever be as one.

Norma, speak to us.

You are silent?

Do you hear us?

The children....

Poor souls.

What will become of our children?

Norma, are you guilty? Tell us!

I have betrayed you utterly.

Wicked woman!

Father, hear me.

Away from me.

I beg you, hear me.

Such grief.

I am a mother!

A mother?

Listen to me.

Clotilde has my children.

Save them from the Romans.

No, never. Leave me.

Father, grant this last plea.

Do not let them become the victims of my betrayal.

Do not cut short their innocent lives.

Remember that my children are your blood.

Have pity on them.

Have pity on them.

He is moved already....

Father, you're weeping?

My heart is breaking.

You're weeping�you forgive me!

Love has won!

You forgive me.

Your tears tell me so. Now I am happy.

I ask no more.

Now, content, I go to the pyre.

Father, oh, father!

No more, unhappy woman.

Will you promise me?

I promise.

The fire will burn away your betrayal
and purify the altar you have defiled.