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Dacia Maraini's Norma '44: An English Language Translation


This is the first English-language translation of the play Norma ’44 (1986) by Italian feminist writer Dacia Maraini. Norma ’44 is the story of two Jewish Italian women who are forced to stage a production of Norma while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two. Starting with the title itself, the play incorporates references to the famous bel canto opera Norma by composer Vincenzo Bellini and librettist Felice Romani (1831). The plot of Norma ’44 clearly parallels the plot of Bellini’s opera, with the characters of the play; Karl, Sara, and Lidia, directly mirroring and echoing the protagonists of the opera; Pollione, Norma, and Adalgisa. Karl puts a recording of the opera on the phonograph and from that point forward each actor intermittently sings along with his or her respective part. Maraini structures the play as a series of rehearsals for the ultimate performance of Norma for Colonel Saidler, a performance that never takes place.

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