What Would Make Norma “Relevant”?

But here I am once more, with more to say on this subject, and not the space/time to say it. So this question of Norma‘s possible relevance will have to hang in suspense till the next post, on Nov. 24, along with some thoughts on The Exterminating Angel/The Opera.


My favorite observation about preparing the role of Norma, quoted in Lanfranco Rasponi’s The Last Prima Donnas, is from Giannina Russ, a famous Norma of the early 1900s whom we’ll briefly encounter in the next post. Gina Cigna, who sang the role on the first complete recording of the opera and succeeded Ponselle in the part at the Met, went to Russ for some advice, and Russ said, “It is difficult to put oneself in the shoes of the Druid priestess, for what kind of shoes did she wear?” She might now also have asked, “And was there a unisex hair salon at the Irminsul?”, since DiDonato emerged with a silvery do that would have looked right on Peter Sellars’ roller-skating rock-and hockey Cherubino—which DiDonato would have done really well.