Aux sources du personnage de Norma
First performed in 1831, Norma, ou L’infanticide, literary source of Felice Romani’s libretto for Bellini, is the sixth play – and feminine portrait – by Alexandre Soumet, considered by his contemporaries at fist as a romantic playwright, then as a classical author. A member of the Académie française since 1824, Soumet adopted a Gallic subject, before Norma, in Pharamond (1825). Condemned during the Enlightenment as a period of barbarity and superstition, ancient Gaul recovers a preeminent place in French theatre and literature, at the beginning of the new century. Pharamond, as well as Le siège de Corinthe (1826), presents a number of topics recalled in Norma: in particular, the main character’s visions, in which recent or past accidents prepare the brilliant future of the nation, are a preliminary signal of her strangeness before the fial mad scene. The establishment of the Académie celtique, in 1804, and the publication of La Gaule poétique by Louis Antoine
de Marchangy, in 1813, promote a new perception of Gallic imagination, founded on a poetic contemplation and astonishment. In such a way, the paper underlines the complex pattern of historical, literary and theatrical references that converge in Soumet’s play and are mirrored in Norma’s libretto.
Norma – literary sources – Alexandre Soumet