Five Films That Share Themes with the Legendary Opera 'Norma'
Published Oct 03, 2017Promotional consideration provided by Cineplex
First performed in Milan in 1831, Vincenzo Bellini's Norma stands as one of the most famous bel canto operas of all time. Despite its legendary status, however, the show's long and complex plot might be intimidating to newcomers.
Norma is a tale of love, lust and revenge. Its titular character is a Druid high priestess who's had children with Pollione, the leader of an opposing army. Eventually, Pollione starts having feelings for Adalgisa, a younger woman. Rather than turn against each other, however, Norma and Adalgisa team up and save the day.
To help you dig into Norma's rich plot points, we've assembled a list of films that share thematic elements with the show. That should have you plenty prepared for the Metropolitan Opera's performance of the piece, which will be broadcast in Cineplex theatres across the nation on October 7.
Here are five movies that share themes with Norma.
The Craft (1996)
With its strong female leads, Norma almost passes the Bechdel Test — not bad for a play first written nearly 200 years ago. Watching female druids team up to kick ass should be the perfect opera for anyone who enjoyed the empowering, revenge-seeking witchcraft featured in the 1996 classic The Craft. Plot-wise, these pieces aren't exactly the same, but it proves that badass women have been wowing us for hundreds of years.
Baby Boom (1987)
Sondra Radvanovsky, who performs the titular role in the current Metropolitan iteration of the opera, told The New York Times that she loves the character's status as a woman who wants it all. "Norma has been portrayed as this strong warrior woman…. But she is a mother and a wife. She is like any of us nowadays: trying to have a big career, a formidable career, and at the same time trying to have a personal life. Trying to find that balance." The Times explains that it's a Meryl Streep-like role, though we can't help but liken it to Diane Keaton's turn as a highly successful businesswoman attempting to add motherhood to her already hectic life.
The Other Woman (2014)
When Norma and Adalgisa discover that they're both in love with Pollione, the two decide to team up and conspire against him. In a weird way, it's similar to the plot of the 2014 comedy The Other Woman. The big-budget comedy starred Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton as three women who decided to team up against the man who'd been three-timing them. While Norma has decidedly fewer poop jokes than The Other Woman, both tales involve women working together instead of tearing each other down.
Casta Diva (1954)
Act I of Norma includes "Casta Diva," one of the most famous arias of the entire 19th century. Naturally, Casta Diva is also the name of not one but two films about the making of Norma. In 1935, Carmine Gallone released a black-and-white version of the film that won Best Italian Film at the Venice International Film Festival. He then remade the project in Technicolor in 1954. As if that weren't enough, a British black-and-white version of the film called The Divine Spark was shot simultaneously with the first Casta Diva. In other words, there are three movies you could theoretically watch about Vincenzo Bellini's struggles to get Norma from script to stage.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
To merely focus on Norma's interpersonal relationships or how it was made is to miss out on the fact that it's incredibly epic. The opera deals with betrayal, death and warring political factions in a way that reminds us a lot of, well, a certain opera set in space. Comparisons between Norma and Star Wars run far and wide, from the opera's socio-political commentary through the fact that it ends with a feared leader burning in a funeral pyre. Sound familiar, Mr. Vader?