Cover image for Vincenzo Bellini, Norma
Vincenzo Bellini, Norma
Kimbell, David R. B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiii, 141 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.B44 K56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Norma is by common consent the finest of the ten operas composed during Vincenzo Bellini's short career. Professor Kimbell provides the biographical and cultural context of the opera, examines its artistic qualities and suggests something of the impression Norma has made on our imaginations and sensibilities in the 165 years since it was first produced in Milan. He considers the great interpretations of the eponymous leading role, while also embracing Bellini's work more generally by presenting some of the critical reactions to his music.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Though another volume in the "Cambridge Opera Handbooks" series is always welcome, this title pales in comparison to the best of its predecessors. A compilation of brief, essentially self-contained essays, the volume includes some material that reminds this reviewer of reasonably good term papers that contain too many extensive quotations and rely too much on the research of others (see especially the final three essays). In addition, one often has to grapple with overlong sentences that do not make absorbing the good qualities of the book any easier. There are also some inexplicable omissions: e.g., consideration of Gaspare Spontini's internationally popular La Vestale as a possible antecedent of Norma, and the important contributions of Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne to modern perceptions of this opera. On the other hand, Kimbell's emphasis on the nuts and bolts of opera production during Bellini's lifetime--verse forms, conventions, stage settings, movement, singing quality--places Norma as a collaborative effort rather than just a product of its composer. One insightful essay points out how Bellini connected whole scenes and pairs of scenes in a forward-moving drama. And in essays on performance history Kimbell establishes that Norma came to be considered the strongest product of the bel canto tradition. All academic collections. K. Pendle; University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

1 The composition of the opera
2 Medea - Velleda - Norma: Romani's sources
3 Synopsis and musical frame
4 Music and poetry
5 A glimpse of the genesis of the opera
6 Some variant readings
7 Contemporary reactions to Norma
8 Critical fortunes since the unification of Italy
9 Five prima donnas: contributions to a performance history