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Norma is an unusual opera character, rich and sculptural and at least as overpowering as heavier tragedian roles. At a time when bel canto was nourished by comedies, melodramas and titillating virtuosity, Vincenzo Bellini struck it rich with his Norma. His dramatic genius brought to life a character who seems to bring to life all the vestal virgins of Antiquity, while his incomparable melodic muse created choruses and songs like an exquisite liquor. And yet the subtle vocal arabesques may give way to stunning imprecations when Norma’s voice takes wing. Her voice carries both of the drama’s acts on its shoulders and constantly radiates them with its brilliance, like a Medea torn between love and duty. An icon of Italian romantic opera and a sort of impenetrable fortress, Norma is considered the role of roles by every great soprano.