Here is a scene and duet from Bellini's opera Norma. This opera (with very little historical accuracy, but lots of beautiful music) is set in Roman-occupied Gaul. The High Priestess Norma, although the priestesses are sworn to virginity, has secretly yielded to love and borne two children to the Roman governor Pollione. In this scene a young priestess, Adalgisa, comes to Norma with a confession. Norma is sympathetic, not yet knowing the identity of Adalgisa's lover: the fickle Pollione.


NORMANORMA
Adalgisa!Adalgisa!
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
(Alma, costanza.)(Be steadfast, my soul.)
  
NORMANORMA
T'inoltra, o giovinetta, t'inoltra. Come forward, young woman, come forward.
E perché tremi? And why are you trembling?
Udii che grave a me segreto palesar tu voglia.I heard that you wish to reveal a grave secret to me.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
È ver . . . ma, deh! ti spoglia It is true . . . But please, divest yourself
della celeste austerità, of the heavenly austerity
che splende negli occhi tuoi. which shines in your eyes.
Dammi coraggio, Give me courage,
ond'io senza alcun velo so that without any concealment
ti palesi il core.I may reveal my heart to you.
  
NORMANORMA
M'abbraccia, e parla! Che t'afflige?Embrace me, and speak! What troubles you?
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Amore! Non t'irritar. Love! Don't be angry.
Lunga stagion pugnai per soffocarlo; For a long time I have fought to stifle it;
ogni mia forza ei vinse, ogni rimorso. it has vanquished all my strength, all my remorse.
Ah, tu non sai purdianzi qual giuramento fea! Ah, you don't know what an oath I made just now!
fuggir dal tempio, tradir l'altare To flee the temple, to betray the altar
a cui son io legata . . . to which I am bound . . .
abbandonar la patria.to forsake my country.
  
NORMANORMA
Ahi! sventurata! Alas, unhappy girl!
Del tuo primier mattino già turbato è il sereno? Is the calm of your early morning already troubled?
E come, e quando nacque tal fiamma in te?But how and when was such a flame born in you?
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Da un solo sguardo, da un sol sospiro, From a single glance, from a single sigh,
nella sacra selva, a piè dell'ara in the sacred wood, at the foot of the altar
ov'io pregavo il Dio. Tremai, where I was praying to the God. I trembled,
sul labbro mio si arrestò la preghiera: the prayer halted upon my lips;
e tutta assorta in quel leggiadro aspetto, and, entirely engrossed in his lovely appearance,
un altro cielo mirar credetti, I believed I beheld another heaven,
un altro cielo in lui.another heaven in him.
  
NORMANORMA
(Oh rimembranza! Io fui così rapita(Oh, memory! I was ravished thus
al sol mirarlo in volto.)by looking once at his face.)
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Ma . . . non m'ascolti tu?But . . . you aren't listening to me?
  
NORMANORMA
Segui . . . t'ascolto.Go on . . . I am listening.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Sola, furtiva, al tempio Alone, stealthily, at the temple
io l'aspettai sovente; I often waited for him;
ed ogni dí più fervida and every day more ardent
crebbe la fiamma ardente.grew the burning flame.
NORMANORMA
(Io stessa arsì così.)(I myself burned thus.)
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Vieni, ei dicea, concedi Come, he said, grant
ch'io mi ti prostri ai piedi; that I may kneel at your feet;
lascia che l'aura io spiri let me breathe the breath
dei dolci tuoi sospiri;of your sweet sighs;
NORMANORMA
(Oh rimembranza! Io fui così sedotta!)(Oh, memory! I was seduced thus!)
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
del tuo bel crin l'anella the ringlets of your beautiful hair
dammi poter bacciar!give me so I can kiss them!
NORMANORMA
(Oh cari accenti! Così li profferia, (Oh, dear words! Thus he uttered them,
così trovava del mio cor la via.)thus he found the way to my heart.)
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Dolci qual arpa armonica Sweet as a harmonious harp
m'eran le sue parole; his words were to me;
negli occhi suoi sorridere smiling in his eyes
vedea più bello un sole.I saw a more beautiful sun.
NORMANORMA
(L'incanto suo fu il mio.)(Her enchantment was my own.)
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Io fu perduta, e il sono; I was lost, and I am;
d'uopo ho del tuo perdono.I need your pardon.
NORMANORMA
Ah! tergi il pianto: avrò pietade.Ah! dry your tears; I will have pity.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Deh! tu mi reggi e guida, Ah, direct me and guide me,
me rassicura, o sgrida,reassure me, or scold me,
NORMANORMA
Ah! tergi il pianto.Ah! Dry your tears.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
salvami da me stessa, save me from myself,
salvami dal mio cor.save me from my own heart.
  
NORMANORMA
Ah! tergi il pianto: Ah! Dry your tears;
te non lega eterno nodo all'ara.an eternal bond does not tie you to the altar.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Ah! ripeti, o ciel, ripeti Ah! repeat, oh heaven, repeat
sì lusinghieri accenti.such encouraging words.
  
NORMANORMA
Ah, sì, fa core e abbracciami. Ah, yes, take heart and embrace me.
Perdono e ti compiango. I pardon and sympathize with you.
Dai voti tuoi ti libero, I free you from your vows,
i tuoi legami io frango. I break your bonds.
Al caro oggetto unita, United to your dear love,
vivrai felice ancor.you will still live happily.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Ripeti, o ciel, ripetimi Repeat, oh heaven, repeat
sì lusinghieri accenti: such encouraging words;
per te s'acquetano through you are quieted
i lunghi miei tormenti.my long torments.
  
ADALGISAADALGISA
Tu rendi a me la vita, You give life to me again,
se non è colpa amor.if love is not a sin.
NORMANORMA
Vivrai felice ancor.You will still live happily.

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