Domenico Donzelli, Giuditta Pasta,
and Giulia Grisi (original cast)
Sutherland in 1975
The sleepwalker in act 2, sc. 2,
(William de Leftwich Dodge, 1899)
Librettist Felice Romani
Sutherland in 1962
Ah! non credea mirarti / Sì presto estinto, o fiore
("I did not believe you would fade so soon, oh flower").
This text from act 2, scene 2, of La sonnambula appears on Bellini's tomb in Catania
Giuditta Pasta for whom the role of Norma was created
Joan Sutherland in 1990
Vincenzo Bellini
by Natale Schiavoni
Poster advertising the 1831 premiere
Giuditta Pasta as Amina, May 1831 premiere
Domenico Donzelli sang Pollione
Tenor Giovanni
Battista Rubini
sang Elvino
Giulia Grisi sang Adalgisa
Maria Malibran as Amina – London 1833
Vincenzo Negrini sang Oroveso
Jenny Lind in La sonnambula, 1840s
Giulia Grisi dressed as Norma. In 1831, she also sang the role of Adalgisa
Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani as Amina by Karl Bryullov, 1834
Act 2 finale, Luigi Lablache as Oroveso, Giulia Grisi (as Norma), Dominique Conti as Pollione. Her Majesty's Theatre, London, 1843
Elisa Taccani, who created the role of Lisa, by Giuseppe Cornienti
Alessandro Sanquirico's set design for act 1, scene 2, for the original production
Disegno per copertina di libretto, drawing for La sonnambula (1954).
Drawing for Norma (undated)
Alessandro Sanquirico's set design for act 2 scene 1
Alessandro Sanquirico's set design for the act. 2 scene 2 sleepwalking scene for the premiere production

Notable exponents of the title role in the post-war period have been Maria Callas, Leyla Gencer, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballé.

- Norma (opera)

With Bellini's La sonnambula successfully staged in March 1831 and Giuditta Pasta having demonstrated her extensive vocal and dramatic ranges in creating the role of Amina, the Swiss village maiden, she had been engaged by La Scala for her debut during the following season.

- Norma (opera)

Returning to Milan after the I Capuleti e i Montecchi performances in March 1830, little occurred until the latter part of April when Bellini was able to negotiate a contracts with both the Milan house for the autumn of 1831 and another for the 1832 Carnival season at La Fenice in Venice; these operas were to become Norma for La Scala and Beatrice di Tenda for Venice.

- La sonnambula

She was engaged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as a utility soprano, and made her debut there on 28 October 1952, as the First Lady in The Magic Flute, followed in November by a few performances as Clotilde in Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma, with Maria Callas as Norma.

- Joan Sutherland

Contributing to the revivals were Joan Sutherland's taking the role of Amina at Covent Garden in 1961 and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1963, where the role become one of her most significant successes.

- La sonnambula

During the 1960s, Sutherland added the heroines of bel canto to her repertoire: Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, Amina in Bellini's La sonnambula and Elvira in Bellini's I puritani in 1960; the title role in Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda in 1961; Marguerite de Valois in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and the title role in Rossini's Semiramide in 1962; Norma in Bellini's Norma and Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare in 1963.

- Joan Sutherland
Domenico Donzelli, Giuditta Pasta,
and Giulia Grisi (original cast)

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Callas in 1958

Maria Callas

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American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.

American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.

Callas in 1958
The apartment house in Athens where Callas lived from 1937 to 1945
The Villa in Sirmione where Callas lived with Giovanni Battista Meneghini between 1950 and 1959
Callas's range in performance (highest and lowest notes both shown in red): from F-sharp below the Middle C (green) to E-natural above the High C (blue)
Callas acknowledges applause in 1959 at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam
Callas's rival, Renata Tebaldi, 1961
Tito Gobbi, 1970
Callas during her final tour in Amsterdam in 1973
Aristotle Onassis, who had an affair with Callas before he married Jackie Kennedy
The last residence of Maria Callas, in Paris
Portrait of Callas (2004), by Oleg Karuvits
Maria Callas with her husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini in 1957
Callas getting ready with the help of Luchino Visconti in Milan, 1957
Maria Callas as Giulia in the Opera "La Vestale", by Gaspare Spontini, 1954
Churchill with Maria Callas on Onassis' yacht in the late 50s

This initial foray into the bel canto repertoire changed the course of Callas's career and set her on a path leading to Lucia di Lammermoor, La traviata, Armida, La sonnambula, Il pirata, Il turco in Italia, Medea, and Anna Bolena, and reawakened interest in the long-neglected operas of Cherubini, Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini.

The two had sung together for the first time the year previously in Rome in a production of Norma.

In 1952, she made her London debut at the Royal Opera House in Norma with veteran mezzo-soprano Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa, a performance which survives on record and also features the young Joan Sutherland in the small role of Clotilde.