‹ Back to What's On Norma

28 Jan - 10 Mar 2012

A rollercoaster of passion, war and destiny. Norma leads her people in a desperate struggle to protect their Pagan beliefs and traditional way of life from the unstoppable rise of the industrial revolution. But she has a terrible secret – Pollione, the father of her children, is the man leading the destruction of the very fabric of her society. Norma is torn, but it is only when he betrays her love that she urges her people to rise up and fight for their freedom. Battle looms, and Norma and Pollione’s destinies seem inextricably entwined to the last.

Sung in Italian with English titles
Lasts approximately 3 hours

What the critics say

...scene after scene pierces to the core of the drama, and there are moments when the evening touches greatness.

The Guardian - Full Review ›

...the production and all the individual performances have a coherence and intensity which marks this Norma out as one of the company's real triumphs.

The Independent - Full Review ›

...the staging is always alive, energised and absorbing. The way in which the community seems to lose faith in itself after Norma’s revelation makes for a powerful climax, and Alden has drawn a strikingly vivid performance from the Dutch soprano Annemarie Kremer in the title-role.

Daily Telegraph - Full Review ›

Opera North has done very well in its new production to find the Dutch soprano Annemarie Kremer. A committed, impassioned performer, she spins long Bellinian lines in dark tone and with glottal attack, making something unusually mystical of “Casta diva”. She is aided here by the conductor Oliver von Dohnányi, who finds the arc of the elegiac numbers and shapes the score with surging drive.

Sunday Telegraph - Full Review ›

The Leeds-based company decided to make a virtue of necessity. It discovered a little-known Dutch soprano who was comfortable in the role. It also asked Christopher Alden, a director renowned for exploding the conventions of 19th-century opera, to make modern sense of the plot. The result is an unlikely success.

Financial Times - Full Review ›

...one is regularly bowled over by the power of a realisation as committed and charged with emotion as this. [...] In her UK debut, Dutch soprano Annemarie Kremer burns with authentic fire [...] Keri Alkema matches Kremer note for note and gesture for gesture, while James Creswell is an empowered Oroveso. Oliver von Dohnanyi conducts a consistently exciting interpretation.

The Stage - Full Review ›

Annemarie Kremer completely inhabited the title role, exploring the psychological depths of the scorned druidess and providing her audience with a performance they could invest in emotionally.

Bachtrack - Full Review ›

  • Adalgisa KERI ALKEMA
  • Pollione LUIS CHAPA
Creative Team
  • Set Designer CHARLES EDWARDS
  • Costume Designer SUE WILLMINGTON
  • Lighting Designer ADAM SILVERMAN

Click on the venue below to plan your visit.

Leeds Grand Theatre

Find Us

46 New Briggate
Leeds Grand Theatre

Important Information

Box Office: 0844 848 2720 (calls cost 7ppm)

  • To access the Grand Theatre, there are six steps from the street up to the foyer or a wheelchair lift from the Grand Theatre Box Office to the foyer, and then lift access to the rest of the auditorium (excluding the Upper Balcony). Some areas of the auditorium do have steep stairs and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Please check with the Box Office. 
  • There are 6 wheelchair spaces: four in the Stalls and two in the Dress Circle.
  • There are accessible toilets at Stalls and Dress Circle levels. 
  • There is an infra-red system in operation for sound amplification. Headsets are available from the Grand Theatre foyer for a £5 refundable deposit. Please ask Box Office staff when booking for advice on the best seats to use this service. 
  • Support dogs are welcome in the auditorium and can be looked after on request. 
  • For refreshments, there are bars at Stalls, Upper Circle and Balcony levels.  

Choose from these fantastic pre-theatre dining options and make your experience complete!

The Alchemist

Opera North ticket holders can enjoy 20% off their food bill at The Alchemist. Located on the second floor of Trinity Shopping Centre, The Alchemist offers a fantastic menu and stunning views of Leeds City Centre. Not available Saturdays. 

Download Menu | Book online 


Manahatta is a recently opened bar and kitchen located on Merrion Street, just a minute's walk from Leeds Grand Theatre. Serving a fantastic New York inspired menu made with fresh local produce, guests will receive 20% off their food bill before 6.15pm with proof of ticket. Booking is required. 

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North Bar

Opera North and Howard Assembly Room ticket holders can enjoy 10% off all drinks at New Briggate's finest craft beer hotspot — North Bar, just a stone's throw from Leeds Grand Theatre. 

Find out more 


Enjoy 15% off all food and drink at authentic Italian wine bar Veeno (Leeds branch only) on presentation of ticket for an Opera North performance. Excludes Fridays and Saturdays after 5.00pm. 

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Veritas Ale & Wine Bar

Enjoy a special pre-opera meal at Veritas Ale & Wine Bar. Just a 5-10 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, choose either two courses for £13.95 (£17.50 with a 175ml house wine) or three courses for £15.95 (£19.50 with a 175ml house wine). Available 5.00-6.30pm. Booking is required.

Download Menu | Book via email or call 0113 242 8094 and quote 'pre-opera menu'

Brasserie Blanc

Sample the fabulous pre-theatre menu at Brasserie Blanc and choose from two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £15.45, with a complimentary glass of fizz for Opera North ticket holders. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Leeds Grand Theatre. Available 12.00-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday. 

Download Menu | Book online or call 0113 220 6060

The Reliance

Just a 5 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, The Reliance bar and dining room offers a fantastic pre-theatre menu. Choose from two courses for £14.45 or three courses for £18.90. Available 5.30-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday.

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Find Us

Theatre Square

Important Information

Box Office: 0115 989 5555

Find access details for Nottingham Theatre Royal

By Car

Follow signs for the city centre and the 'Royal Zone'. Nearest car parks are Talbot Street car park and Crowne Plaza Hotel car park on Wollaton Street.
For maps and information about on-street parking, off-street car parks, park and ride and the blue badge scheme please visit Parking In Nottingham

By Bus

For bus times call Nottingham City Transport on 0115 950 6070, Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit www.travelineeastmidlands.co.uk   Find out about our £1 return bus ticket here.

By Tram

 The 'Royal Centre' tram stop is directly outside the venue and runs every 10 minutes until midnight. There are five Park and Ride sites along the route. Visit www.thetram.net or call 0115 942 7777 for full details of the tram route. Find out about our £1 return tram ticket here.

By Rail

Nottingham Station is a 15 minute walk or a short taxi or tram ride from the venue. Call 0845 748 4950 or www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times and fares. 


Discover exciting pre-theatre dining options for Nottingham Theatre Royal

Salford Quays

Find Us

Pier 8
Salford Quays
M50 3AZ

Important Information

Box office: 0843 208 6000 

There is a passenger drop-off point immediately in front of The Lowry. Secure parking is available in The Lowry Outlet Mall multi-storey car park. There are designated areas for disabled parking on every level. 

The Lowry is accessible by train, tram and bus. http://www.tfgm.com/

From national railway stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria you can travel to The Lowry by Metrolink tram. You can board an Eccles line tram and should alight at Harbour City, or Media City UK for trams which stop there, as this is slightly closer.

More info: http://www.thelowry.com/plan-your-visit/getting-here/


Find Us

100 Grey Street

Important Information

Box office: 08448 112121


Free Parking in all City Council multi-storey carparks after 5pm.

The two closest car parks to Theatre Royal are the Oxford Street multi-storey (just behind the Laing) and the Dean Street multi-storey. Click here for more info.

There are two parking spaces for blue badge holders on Shakespeare Street and three on Hood Street. Most parking meters are free to Blue Badge Holders.


Alight at Monument Metro Station and follow the signs for the Theatre Royal. We are less than one minutes walk from the Metro entrance on Grey Street.

Travel free on the Metro with your theatre ticket (up to two hours before and after the performance) - simply retain your theatre ticket for inspection by Metro Staff.


The Theatre Royal is only ten minutes walk from Newcastle Central Station.

What you say

Comment from Tom Halstead


Tom Halstead said ago

I was genuinely thrilled by this production in Manchester. Annemarie Kremer (Norma), Keri Alkema (Adalgisa) were outstanding and made it one of my most memorable opera experiences. Given the era it was from I feared it might be a bit stiff but there was a genuine sense of real drama. Production values were high and the unusual setting gave it an added edge, something that might have been lacking with togas and sandals, I feel. Top marks to Opera North.

Comment from Paul Halsall


Paul Halsall said ago

I went to see Bellini's NORMA last night by Opera North at The Lowry Centre. I very much enjoyed the singing, especially of Annemarie Kremer (as Norma), Keri Alkema (as Adalgisa), and especially Ken Creswell (as Oroveso).

The most striking aspect of the production was, though, its setting. It had been taken from its original setting in pagan Gaul (with Norma as a druid priestess and her illicit and unfaithful lover Pollione as a Roman proconsul) and rest in an American religious community in the 19th century. The community was (as the words sung remain the same) necessarily pagan (in fact it was literally tree-hugging as the most prominent set item was a mass phallic log). Norma was the religious leader of the group and Pollione some kind of tax collector. There was a great deal of religious ritual around the log, and a remarkable amount of rolling around in emotional pain on the floor.

I have not objection to re-setting operas, I gather part of the reason for this setting was that modern audiences would not be able to take a pagan Gaullish setting seriously. Now I do have some background knowledge on American utopian religious groups (and in fact this group reminded me of the Shakers, led by Mother Ann Lee (from Manchester) both in its female leadership, and its ecstatic rituals. Even the aspect of war with the authorities makes sense when you consider American groups such as the Mormons, (or more recently the group at Waco) did in fact go to war with the federal government.

The problem was that for many of the Manchester audience 19th century American religion is just as remote an idea as druid worship in Gaul, and since the singing/surtitles kept referring to "Romans" there was a certain amount of confusion.

Still, Dad and I had a great evening out.

Comment from Jean Barlow


Jean Barlow said ago

This is to tell you of our overwhelming appreciation of the standard of performance, staging and concept of the Norma production at The Lowry last evening. My friend and I often go to see your productions at the Lowry but last night's performance was outstanding. We were completely taken aback by the up-date and modern interpretation of the story and the excellence of the whole production. I have been to operas across Europe and New York but I have never been so impressed, as I was with Opera North’s production of Norma at The Lowry

Comment from Thessalonia


Thessalonia said ago

Very dissappointed with last nights production of Norma. We were so looking forward to it, but the very drab, washed out monotone set left us wondering which character was singing half the time. The flat frontal lighting didn't help and the reason for the setting, costumes and wierd moves went way beyond our understanding, unless it was meant to portray a bunch of mentally disturbed inmates? The music was lovely but here again there was no real contrasts and we ended up with a monotone effect once again. We have waited a long time to see Norma, but now it is right down at the bottom of good operas.

Comment from Guest


Guest said ago

I saw Giulio Cesare in Leeds and loved it On Monday I was at ENO's Rosenkavalier and loved it, having loved ON's version a few years ago. I loved Rheingold and am eagerly awaiting Valkyrie. Had any of these long operas been twice as long I'd have remained engaged by them. But then, Handel, Strauss and Wagner are musical geniuses who use all the elements of music available to them, and really can move toi tears. Bellini seems to think melody unsupported by anything of any interest, and that appalling tam tam will do, and it won't. I think half an hour of Norma would be too much for me, however well it was designed, directed and acted (which sorry to say, this wasn't. Win some, lose some (hopefully lose fewer!)

Comment from robert b


robert b said ago

Doyou want the glass half full or the glass half empty?If you are thinking of seeing this opera then there are many compelling reasons to do so.Bellinis work is truly wonderful....a first rate masterpiece.The orchestra were great with clear detailed sound.And then there are two other great reasons for seeing this production......the beautiful singing of Norma and Adalgisa.The music and momentum meant it was impossible not to be completely absorbed and entranced.Precious indeed.However...........the decisions on production were truly grotesque.Pollione would have looked more attractive in a banana suit.Hardly a seducer of two powerful and beautiful women .The women too were dressed very drably...more like milkmaids than a druid priestess and a virgin of the temple.The set too was dreadful......a big fat tree trunk....thats yer lot!The muddling of costumes ,texts and historical periods convinces me that the director is on drugs.
However do try to ignore this utter garbage and concentrate on the wonder of the creation and the inner beauty of the singing.It wont be difficult!

Comment from Peter Bond


Peter Bond said ago

We were very dissapointed in the production of Norma on Saturday 26th. Th scenery was very drab and dreary as were the costumes. The log, well what can one say... it was awful. Portraying Pollione in a Dikensian top hat and tails was bizarre to say the least, the other costumes were not any better. To have the singers rolling around on the stage, presumably to drum-up emotion was pathetic. Opera North .....get real, and get some decent productions with good, realistic costumes and sets and concentrate on the wonderful music. The orchestra was OK. If we were nearer the end of the isle we would have walked out as we did during the recent production of Carmen, which was just as awful.

Comment from Tony Ward


Tony Ward said ago

I saw 'Norma' at Nottingham last night. The singing was very good sometimes excellent and the conductor should be commended for keeping the orchestra volume down to allow us to hear the singers. However it was difficult to believe the staging. The opera is set in occupied Gaul in pre-Christian Roman times so what do we make of the opening with two blokes in top hats and tailcoats in a carpenter's workshop followed by medieval peasants in gardening gear. The principal stage feature was a massive tree trunk supported on thick ropes which, we gathered, became an altar, a pyre and a chair support for the soprano when she sang 'Casta Diva''. Why she was required to shin up the tree whilst singing the intro escapes me; I wondered what Callas, Sutherland et al would have said. The seats at the theatre are very hard and not suitable for a 1.5 hour first act. Indeed all the seating in the theatre is unsatisfactory, and the sight lines and the acoustic are poor. On the other hand both the seating and the acoustic in the concert hall next door are excellent, in fact Bryn Terfel, no less, hs commented that 'It must be one of the best hall in Europe'. So why not perform your shows in the concert hall? You will say that it is necessary to fly the scenery but last night as far as I could see only the tree trunk needed flying and I am sure a simpler alternative and more believable prop could be devised.

Comment from Carl Easton


Carl Easton said ago

I have just witnessed the most amazing opera performance I have ever seen and I have seen all the opera's by Opera North since 2010. Its such a shame I saw it on the last night in Leeds you really must bring it back!!!! Heart wrenching and emotional, I was speechless and transfixed throughout the performance and I can say there were more than a few tears shed. Truly, truly, truly outstanding.

Comment from Jeimuzu22


Jeimuzu22 said ago

Truly explosive performance from Kremer and Adalgisa. The set and costumes gave a very interesting, but not unpleasant, aesthetic, pointing to a 19th century European struggle between peasants and landowners. But the persistent references to Celtic druids in the set (such as the symbols on the log) combined with that oddly well. Very enjoyable.

Comment from Jeremy Davidson


Jeremy Davidson said ago

I very much enjoyed your performance of Bellini's "Norma" last week at the Grand as I had of Donizetti's "Maria Stuarda" in the summer of 2010 at the same theatre. Hence I very much hope you will continue to explore the bel canto repertoire. I always enjoy travelling up from London to attend performances of these rarer works.

Comment from Ashley Easter


Ashley Easter said ago

A very welcome and enjoyable production with excellent singing from all members of the cast with the exception of Luis Chapa as Pollione who to put it mildly was disappointing. He was a cumbersome singer and actor on stage and his phrasing and enunciation left me crying out for a more creditable tenor in the role. On some occasions he was even out of tune.This in stark contrast to the immaculate Kremer, Alkema and the revelatory Cresswell. Bravo Opera North..after the wonderful Capuleti Montecchi and Maria Stuarda...another bel canto triumph for the Company.Thank you.

Comment from David


David said ago

I was at this production on Saturday and it was amazing, so much so that I am looking to take more friends again.

AnneMarie's version of Casta diva was electric and all of us had a tear or two in our eyes afterwards.
I have to compliment you on your staging and cast, the evening has already become one of my highlights of the year.

i cannot recommend this production more, it is probably one of the best Operas I have seen. A huge thank you and well done.

Comment from operafanatic


operafanatic said ago

Huge anticipation for the performance last night but the sets were truly awful.The performers were superb but we all thought the sets were inappropriate and confusing.This is an opera about druids in olden times and to try and set it in a more modern them was in all our opinions dreadful.Sometimes there is no need to change something that is perfect. I ended up closing my eyes and just listening to the musin as the sets and costumes were so off-puting!!!!!!!.

Comment from Guest


Guest said ago

Fantastic! Gripping costumes & set - is there an Oscar for Best Tree Trunk? I hope it's not giving too much away to say my Favourite moment was when Norma, after a pivotal sharing & caring session with her acolyte asks her, 'so - what's your bloke's name?'

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The Music

Marking the climax of the bel canto (beautiful singing) repertoire, Norma is an opera of extremes. Full of long, lavish melodies, lush orchestration, spellbinding arias and achingly beautiful duets, its emotional music has the power to move audiences to tears. Due to its technical difficulties, the title role of the heartbroken druid priestess, is notoriously hard to cast. Having made legends out of Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland, Norma has always been the maker of global opera stars.

A co-production with Theater Chemnitz

In memory of Gertrude Pfaffinger and in homage to the great Maria Callas

Did You Know?

Apparently, Bellini wrote the title role of Norma specifically to fit the very strange voice of the soprano Giuditta Pasta, making the role a heady challenge for any soprano!


Leeds Grand Theatre

Any Day

Income support, pension credit, JSA £10 stalls tickets

Family Ticket
50% off for up to 4 under 18s with each adult ticket booked

Groups of 10 or more
20% off plus one free seat for organiser

Monday to Friday

Under 26 and full time students £10 stalls tickets
Retired over 60 10% off
Leeds Card holders 10% off

On the Day
Day tickets – 30 tickets available on the day at 20% off from 9.30am. Best available seats.
Saturday Standby tickets – 25% off to concession holders from 9.30am. Best available seats, proof of status must be shown. 
Maximum 2 tickets per person. 
Available by phone 0844 848 2722 or in person only

BSL interpreted performances
Tickets £13.50 for the deaf or hard of hearing. 
Seats for BSL users have been set aside in the most appropriate areas of the house, please ask the Box Office when you book. 
For more information phone: 0113 22 33 500 or text: 07531 043 671.

Audio described performances
Tickets £13.50 for blind and visually impaired patrons, set aside in the most appropriate area.

Disabled people
25% off (essential carer free).

To book for a performance and touch tour please contact Opera North on: 0113 22 33 500.

The Lowry, Salford Quays

Family Ticket 
With every adult ticket purchased up to four under 16s go half price

Groups of 10 or more
£4 off per ticket + 1 in 10 tickets free. No booking fee

Tuesday to Friday

Full time students £10 stalls tickets with relevant ID

Audio described and BSL interpreted performances
Tickets £15 for visual/hearing impaired patrons, set aside in the most appropriate area.

No booking fee will be charged
Not available online.

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Tuesday to Thursday

Under 18s 50% off (excludes Gallery)
Students, over 60 and Unwaged £2 off (excludes Gallery)

On the Day 
Standby tickets from 9am 
Concessionary patrons half price
Under 25 £5 (not applicable to gallery seats)

Not available online.

Audio described and BSL interpreted performances
50% off for visual/hearing impaired patrons (set aside in the most appropriate area).

No booking fee will be charged
Not available online.

Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Adult Groups of 8+
20% off

Disabled People
50% off + one essential companion free

On the Day
Standby tickets from 6pm
Under 26 £5 any available Stalls seat
There are 24 tickets available to concession holders for £10 each (max two per person).

Discounts Tuesday - Friday
Under 18 & Registered Unwaged 50% off
Students 25% off
Retired over 60 10% off
School Groups 50% off in the balcony for 10+. One free teacher place per 20 pupils booked.

Audio described and BSL interpreted performances
50% off for visual/hearing impaired patrons (set aside in the most appropriate area)

No booking fee will be charged
Not available online.

All offers and discounts are subject to availability, do not apply for tickets for £5 and under, may be withdrawn and cannot be applied retrospectively. Only one discount per ticket. Proof of status must be shown.