text by Mara Cantoni
photographs by Silvia Lelli Masotti
Give us back Norma. Almost one hundred and fifty years between us and that moment, that life of opera, small and big events, whims, expectations, carriages, ladies’ gowns, the echo of Napoleon, hopes, salons, quarrels, Austrian officials. Giuditta Pasta, Giulia Grisi, Domenico Donzelli, names, requests, impresarios, letters, a libretto for the occasion, a theater, a public: 1831, at the Scala. Bellini, his school, his being, his writing.
Give us back Norma. We, today. Distant. That life is not ours, we are others, we are far away. A taxi, one means among many, from the offices, from work, in the queues of a city, we go into the theater, a known and conscious ritual, we sit down in our seat and we watch and listen. Again, Norma in a theater, for us. Bellini, his being, his writing. People dressed like us, brought up in the same way with the same books reinvent it in the performance which belongs to us.
Give us back Norma. Pages, notes, marks. An object mysteriously lying among many images, the music score is an archaic presence in a present moment not its own. Bellini, his writing. The autographed score is the only Norma that has stayed true to itself in the changing structures and superstructures. Between the music score and the performance, there is the attempt to avoid betraying either of the two truths: neither that of the opera nor our own.