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Opera as a Moral Vehicle: Situating Bellini's Norma in the Political Complexities of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Buenos Aires

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2021

Vera Wolkowicz
Universidad de Buenos Aires Email:
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On 25 May 1849 Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma was premiered at the Teatro de la Victoria in Buenos Aires. It was performed four years before the downfall of Juan Manuel de Rosas, Governor of Buenos Aires for more than 20 years, in what it has been considered in Argentine historiography as a ‘terror regime’. The success of the opera combined with the political situation enables the understanding of Norma in political terms. A year prior to the premiere of the opera, the story of the elopement of a young, aristocratic, federal girl, Camila O'Gorman with the priest Uladislao Gutiérrez, had shocked local society. It was followed by another shocking event when, once the couple was found, Rosas decided to have them executed. I argue that the inadvertent similarity between the plot of Norma and the events in relation to Camila O'Gorman's death led to possible interpretations of the opera performance as a justification of Rosas's decision to execute Camila and her lover, whilst also providing a moral lesson to young aristocratic women. In this article, I therefore explore the plausible political overtones hidden in the performance of Norma by comparing librettos and analysing the opera's reception between 1849 and 1851 in the periodicals of the time. In this way, I cast light on a heretofore overlooked, but undeniably rich, period of operatic life in Buenos Aires.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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I would like to especially thank Alessandra Jones, Charlotte Bentley, Benjamin Walton and José Manuel Izquierdo König for their thoughtful readings and suggestions on previous drafts of this manuscript.


1 See Lynch, John, Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas 1829–1852 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981)Google Scholar, especially chapter 6, ‘The Terror’, 201–46.

2 The opponents of the regime created a play on words: mazorca (ear of corn) and más horca (more hangings). The members of this organization included ‘professional cut-throats and delinquents’. Lynch, Argentine Dictator, 215 and 218.

3 For more on the political meaning of fashion during the Rosista period, see Root, Regina A., Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 See Guillamón, Guillermina, Música, política y gusto. Una historia de la cultura musical en Buenos Aires, 1817–1838 (Rosario: Prohistoria Ediciones, 2018)Google Scholar; and Gorén, Yael Bitrán, ‘Dos reglamentos de teatro en el México decimonónico. La construcción de una nueva civilidad’, Revista Argentina de Musicología 21/1 (April 2020): 17–32Google Scholar.

5 Wolkowicz, Vera, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana en Buenos Aires a fines del período rosista: una polémica entre el Diario de la Tarde y el Diario de Avisos (1848–1851)’, in Dar la nota: El rol de la prensa en la historia musical argentina, ed. Luz, Silvina Mansilla (Buenos Aires: Gourmet Musical Ediciones, 2012): 21–60Google Scholar, at 24. See also Walton, Benjamin, ‘Escasez y abundancia en la historiografía operística del Río de la Plata’, Revista Argentina de Musicología 21/1 (April 2020): 33–49Google Scholar.

6 Rodríguez, Martín, ‘Rosas y el teatro rioplatense (1835–1852)’, in Resonancias Románticas: ensayos sobre historia de la cultura argentina 1820–1890, ed. Batticuore, Graciela, Gallo, Klaus and Myers, Jorge (Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 2005): 167–77Google Scholar, at 168.

7 In relation to opera as a political vehicle in different times and contexts see the catalogue of the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Kate Bailey, ed., Opera: Passion, Power and Politics (London: V&A Publishing, 2007); and John Bokina, Opera and Politics: From Monteverdi to Henze (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). For some cases of ninteenth-century Italy and France, see for example Carlotta Sorba, ‘Ernani Hats: Italian Opera as a Repertoire of Political Symbols during the Risorgimento’, in The Oxford Handbook of the New Cultural History of Music, ed. Jane F. Fulcher (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011): 428–51; Mary Ann Smart, Waiting for Verdi: Opera and Political Opinion in Nineteenth-Century Italy, 1815–1848 (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018), and ‘How Political were Verdi's Operas? Metaphors of Progress in the Reception of I Lombardi alla prima crociata’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 18/2 (2013): 190–204; Everist, Mark, ‘The Music of Power: Parisian Opera and the Politics of Genre, 1806–1864’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67/3 (Fall 2014): 685–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sarah Hibberd, French Grand Opera and the Historical Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

8 Smart, Waiting for Verdi, 9.

9 Catherine Clément, ‘Through Voices, History’, in Siren Songs: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera, ed. Mary Ann Smart (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 17–28.

10 Although today we tend to trace clear cut distinctions between federalists and unitarians, according to historian Jorge Gelman the political differences were not so neatly distinguishable at the time. Gelman, Jorge, ‘Unitarios y federales. Control político y construcción de identidades en Buenos Aires durante el primer gobierno de Rosas’, Anuario IEHS 19 (2004): 359–90Google Scholar, at 360.

11 José Luis Romero, A History of Argentine Political Thought, trans. Thomas F. McGann (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1968): 167.

12 Tulio Halperín Donghi, Historia Argentina 3: De la revolución de independencia a la confederación rosista (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2007): 340.

13 Jorge Myers, ‘Rosas’, in Historia de Caudillos argentinos, ed. Jorge Lafforgue (Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1999): 277–322, at 298.

14 Myers, ‘Rosas’, 282–3.

15 This generation consisted of young people that belonged to elite families of Buenos Aires and the provinces, such as Esteban Echeverría, Juan Bautista Alberdi (lawyer who set the bases for the National Constitution of 1853), Vicente Fidel López and Juan María Gutiérrez, among others. See Romero, A History of Argentina Political Thought, 130–40.

16 Halperín Donghi, Historia Argentina 3, 340.

17 Some of them include David Viñas, Literatura argentina y realidad política (Buenos Aires: Jorge Álvarez, 1964); Carlos Altamirano and Beatriz Sarlo, Ensayos argentinos. De Sarmiento a la vanguardia (Buenos Aires: Ariel, 1997); Cristina Iglesia, ed., Letras y divisas: ensayos sobre literatura y rosismo (Buenos Aires: Instituto de Literatura Hispanoamericana, FFyL, UBA, 1998); Noé Jitrik, ed., Historia crítica de la literatura argentina, 11 vols (Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1999), especially volumes 1 and 2; Pilar González Bernaldo de Quirós, Civility and Politics in the Origins of the Argentine Nation: Sociabilities in Buenos Aires, 1829–1862, trans. Daniel Philip Tunnard (Los Angeles: University of California, 2006).

18 The most famous writings from this period, which are also considered cornerstones of Argentine literature, are Esteban Echeverría's El Matadero (written between 1838–40 and first published in 1871), José Mármol's Amalia (originally published in parts and incomplete in the newspaper La Semana from Montevideo in 1851) and Sarmiento's Facundo o civilización y barbarie en las pampas argentinas (1845, published in parts in the Chilean newspaper El Progreso).

19 Yet, as Pilar González Bernaldo explains ‘[i]n spite of this bleak panorama, which in the writings of the opposition undoubtedly aroused a reductionist vision of the regime, manifestations of collective life did not disappear’. González Bernaldo de Quirós, Civility and Politics, 160.

20 A depiction of this contrast between Manuelita and her father was made in the novel Amalia (1851) by José Mármol. See Marta Spagnuolo, ‘Manuela Rosas y lo adverso según Mármol’, Boletín de la Academia Argentina de Letras 71/287–288 (September–December 2006): 673–708.

21 The tertulias were social gatherings where people would dance and play music. A record of Manuelita Rosas's attendance at the theatre can be traced in theatre reviews published in the press, such as Diario de la Tarde, Diario de Avisos, and The British Packet and Argentine News.

22 Halperín Donghi, Historia Argentina 3, 370.

23 After his defeat in 1852 and during the last decades of the nineteenth century, Rosas was portrayed as a tyrant. At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, a trend of historical revisionism (mostly driven by conservative, nationalist and Catholic intellectuals) began to produce a discourse of Rosas as a heroic figure who defended the values of the country. Yet historian Jorge Myers says that both liberal and revisionist historians have found consensus on depicting Rosas's regime as violent, undoubtedly reinforced by the fatal end of the O'Gorman affair (Myers, ‘Rosas’, 281). For more on this historiographic debate see Tulio Halperín Donghi, El revisionismo histórico argentino como visión decadentista de la historia nacional (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2005); Fernando Devoto, Nacionalismo, fascismo y tradicionalismo en la Argentina moderna: una historia (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2005); and José Carlos Chiaramonte, Usos políticos de la historia. Lenguaje de clases y revisionismo histórico (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2013). This revisionist trend reappeared during Juan Domingo Perón's government (1946–55) and has made a recent revival during Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's second presidency when, in 2011, the Instituto Nacional de Revisionismo Histórico Argentino e Iberoamericano ‘Manuel Dorrego’ was created, only to be shut down under presidential decree by the following president, Mauricio Macri, in 2015. The revisionist perspective may also be a reason that John Lynch changed his book title after its first edition. While the original title describes Rosas as an ‘Argentine dictator’, the subsequent editions use the slightly more nuanced term ‘caudillo’ (‘personalist leader’) instead. Compare Lynch, Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas 1829–1852 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981) and Argentine Caudillo: Juan Manuel de Rosas (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).

24 Literally ‘people of the port’. It refers to the inhabitants of Buenos Aires. See the Oxford English Dictionary, (accessed 4 May 2018).

25 Lelia Area, ‘Entre la familia y la barbarie: el caso Camila O'Gorman’, Lieux et figures de la barbarie, CECILLE – EA, Université Lille 3 (2006–2008): 8.

26 María Teresa Julianello, ‘The Scarlet Trinity: The Doomed Struggle of Camila O'Gorman against Family, Church and State in 19th Century Buenos Aires’, Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2000, (accessed 19 Apr. 2018).

27 Valentina Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman: realidad y mito en el imaginario cultural argentino (1847–1884)’ (PhD diss., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2015): 65–71. This dissertation offers a very detailed account of Camila's case based on carefully researched primary sources such as letters and newspapers at the Archivo General de la Nación and the Biblioteca Nacional Argentina respectively.

28 On the differences on the priest's name spelling (Ladislao or Uladislao) in the historical literature see the first endnote in Thomas Brinkerhoff, ‘A Case of Forbidden Love: Camila O'Gorman, Ladislao Gutiérrez, and the Gender Anxieties of a Nineteenth-Century Caudillo’, The Latin Americanist 59/2 (June 2015): 67–84, at 79. Contrary to this author, I have chosen the spelling Uladislao.

29 Camila was in fact nineteen years old; testimonies of the time emphasized her youth when directing blame at the priest for the elopement. The priest was not much older than Camila, however; he was 25 years old at the time they were found. Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’, 57.

30 Lelia Area, ‘De esto no se habla: El caso Camila O'Gorman en la novela familiar argentina del siglo XIX’, Ciberletras: Revista de crítica literaria y de cultura 10 (2003), (accessed 19 Apr. 2018).

31 Area, ‘Entre la familia y la barbarie’, 7–8. Sarmiento (as I have already mentioned) and Mitre were very important political figures; several years after the fall of the Rosista regime, both became presidents of Argentina.

32 Julianello, ‘The Scarlet Trinity’.

33 Julianello, ‘The Scarlet Trinity’.

34 Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’, 97.

35 Reyes’ memoirs were republished by Manuel Bilbao as Vindicación y memoria de Don Antonino Reyes (Buenos Aires: Imprenta del Porvenir, 1883). See Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O’ Gorman’, 52.

36 ‘Acabo de saber que mueres conmigo. Ya que no hemos podido vivir en la tierra unidos, nos uniremos en el cielo ante Dios’. Cited in Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’, 111. All translations are my own. I have tried to translate into English as smoothly as possible without compromising the ninteenth-century style (and in some cases rhymes) of the Spanish and Italian originals.

37 Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’, 111.

38 Iturbe-La Grave explains that, in a letter addressed to his son-in-law on 6 March 1870 and sent from his exile in Southampton, Rosas takes full responsibility for the couple's execution and claims not to have consulted any lawyers. Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’, 110–11.

39 Myers, ‘Rosas’, 308.

40 Area, ‘De esto no se habla’.

41 Area, ‘De esto no se habla’, 78.

42 Area, ‘Entre la familia y la barbarie’, 8.

43 The story of Camila O'Gorman has endured. Several literary works and a film based on the story were produced from the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. For more information about the impact of Camila O'Gorman's story on the Argentine social imaginary of the ninteenth century see Iturbe-La Grave, ‘Camila O'Gorman’; and the section titled ‘Una cautiva de Rosas en Palermo: Camila O'Gorman’, in Lía Noguera, Teatro y frontera: Cruces y desplazamientos geográficos y culturales durante el romanticismo rioplatense (1837–1857) (Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 2017), 89–102.

44 Vicente Gesualdo, Historia de la Música en la Argentina, vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, Beta, 1961), 301–16.

45 From about 1821 to 1827 Bernardino Rivadavia held considerable sway as Minister of Government and Foreign Affairs (1821–24) and as president (1826–27). According to John Lynch, Rivadavia ‘endeavoured to modernize Argentina. He sought economic growth through free trade, foreign investment, and immigration’. Lynch, Argentine Dictator, 31.

46 Juan María Veniard, Aproximación a la música académica argentina (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Universidad Católica Argentina, 2000), 58.

47 [Thomas George Love], A Five Year Residence in Buenos Ayres During the Years 1820 to 1825, By an Englishman (London: G. Herbert, 1825), 23. Although the book does not indicate the author, it has been attributed to Love. I would also like to clarify that the first names of Love appear in different order according to the bibliography (Thomas George, or George Thomas).

48 It is not clear how long this society lasted, since there is evidence of its existence only during the year of 1817. See Guillamón, Música, política y gusto, 48–55.

49 For more on the beginning of opera stagings in Buenos Aires see Héctor Goyena, ‘Lírica a la luz de las velas: la ópera en Buenos Aires entre 1821 y 1830’, Música e Investigación 12–13 (Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Musicología, 2013): 15–164; Norma Lisio, Divina Tani y el inicio de la ópera en Buenos Aires 1824–1830 (Buenos Aires: The Author, 1996); Mariano G. Bosch, Historia de la ópera en Buenos Aires. Origen del canto y la música. Las primeras compañías y los primeros cantantes (Buenos Aires: Imprenta El Comercio, 1905).

50 Walton, ‘Escasez y abundancia’, 41.

51 There were only two theatres at the end of Rosas's regime. One was the already cited Teatro de la Victoria in which opera was performed, and the other was the Teatro Argentino, in which mostly European but also early national plays were performed. See Raúl H. Castagnino, El teatro en Buenos Aires durante la época de Rosas, vol. 1 (Buenos Aires: Academia Argentina de Letras, 1989), 319–51, and Osvaldo Pelletieri, ed., Historia del Teatro Argentino en Buenos Aires. El período de constitución (1700–1884) (Buenos Aires: Galerna, 2001), 273–388.

52 ‘¿Qué le diría a Ud. que parece a primera vista el conjunto interior del edificio? Parece una inmensa pajarera, parece un inmenso armario de libros o de tarros de botica, parece una jaula de loros, un aljibe … parece qué se yo lo que parece’. Cited in Gesualdo, Historia de la música en la Argentina, vol. 1, 368.

53 Alfredo Taullard, Nuestro antiguo Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Talleres Peuser, 1927), 150. It is interesting here to see the aesthetic as well as ideological shift from classicism to romanticism through the type of messages that could be read on stage at the old Coliseo Provisional (‘comedy as mirror of life’) and the new Teatro de la Victoria (‘morality is taught’).

54 González Bernaldo de Quirós, Civility and Politics, 166–7.

55 General studies that discuss opera during the period addressed in this article are Bosch, Historia de la ópera en Buenos Aires; Gesualdo, Historia de la música en la Argentina; Alberto Emilio Giménez and Juan Andrés Sala, ‘La interpretación musical’, Historia general del arte en la Argentina, vol. 3 (Buenos Aires: Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1984), 49–107; John Roselli, ‘The Opera Business and the Italian Immigrant Community in Latin America 1820–1930: The Example of Buenos Aires’, Past and Present 127/1 (1990): 155–82; Gerardo Huseby and Melanie Plesch, ‘La música desde el período colonial hasta fines del siglo XIX’, in Nueva historia argentina. Arte, sociedad, política, ed. Emilio Burucúa, vol. 1 (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1999), 217–68; Benjamin Walton, ‘Italian operatic fantasies in Latin America’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 17/4 (2012): 460–71; Guillamón, Música, política y gusto. The only studies on the development of music at the end of Rosas's regime are an unpublished course essay written by Gloria Margarita Swanston, La música en Buenos Aires entre los años 1840–1852, essay for the seminar ‘Historical Musicology’ (Buenos Aires: Universidad Católica Argentina, 1977); Wolkowicz, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana’; and most recently, Walton ‘Escasez y abundancia’. Other musical studies that have also addressed the Rosista period but mainly discussing its national development (and mostly involving figures of the unitarian faction, in a similar discussion as in literary studies) are for example Melanie Plesch's preliminary studies of the Boletín Musical, 1837 (facsimilar edition) (La Plata: Archivo Histórico ‘Dr. Ricardo Levene’, 2006), 1–59, and Fernando Cruz Cordero's Discurso sobre música (Buenos Aires: Secretaría de Cultura de la Presidencia de la Nación, 2006), 1–45; Pola Suárez Urutbey, Antecedentes de la musicología en la Argentina. Documentación y exégesis (Buenos Aires: Educa, 2007). Another interesting and also controversial analysis is the one made by Bernardo Illari of Argentine composer Juan Pedro Esnaola (personal teacher of Manuelita and composer of songs of praise to Rosas), in which he depicts the composer as a ‘crypto’ unitarian. See Bernardo Illari, ‘Esnaola contra Rosas’, Revista Argentina de Musicología 11 (2010): 33–73.

56 Castagnino, El teatro en Buenos Aires durante la época de Rosas, vol. 1, 295–310.

57 ‘Otra de las ridiculeces de aquella época era la de que en los teatros, antes de empezar la función, salían todos los artistas, vestidos con los trajes que en la función debían sacar, y sobre el traje de Carlos V, por ejemplo, o Nabucodonosor, pendía la consabida divisa federal. Se formaban en ala dando frente al público, y el director gritaba: ¡Viva la Confederación Argentina! ¡Mueran los salvajes unitarios!’ Cited in Gesualdo, Historia de la música en la Argentina, vol. 1, 363–4.

58 Unfortunately I have found no primary sources regarding the Censorship Commision and how it acted. The only reference is Castagnino's in El teatro en Buenos Aires durante la época de Rosas, vol. 2, 592.

59 Some of Pestalardo's singers (Nina Barbieri, Carolina Merea, Juan Thiolier and Pablo Sentati) appeared to have performed in Rio de Janeiro at the Teatro São Pedro de Alcântara and the Teatro de São Francisco during 1847. This information has been found in the newspaper Diário do Rio de Janeiro and Jornal do Commercio (see the complete newspapers online: During the four years in which Pestalardo produced opera in Buenos Aires, his company had some changes in its cast. The first cast was formed by the singers Juan Thiolier, Nina Barbieri, Pablo Sentati, José Barbieri, José Lagomarsini, Manuel Buzzo, Ramona Molina and Clara Gambino. In the following years the cast would change and the following singers would be incorporated: Carlos Rico, Margarita Lemos, Carolina Merea, Pablo Franchi, José María Ramonda, Clemente Mugnay, Luisa Pretti, Teresa Questa, José Ronchetti, Ida Edelvira, among others. First names were often hispanicized in the press of the time.

60 For a detailed list of the seasons see Wolkowicz, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana’, 28.

61 Lía Noguera mentions a third theatre, Teatro del Buen Orden, inaugurated in 1844, which did not perform opera and only lasted for a few years. See Noguera, Teatro y frontera, 144.

62 Twenty operas were premiered between 1848 and 1851. Ordered by composer, these were: Lucia di Lammermoor, Il Furioso nell'Isola di Santo Domingo, L'elisir d'amore, Lucrezia Borgia, Linda di Chamounix, Gemma di Vergy, Don Pasquale, Belisario by Donizetti; Beatrice di Tenda, Norma, Il Pirata, La Sonnambula, I Puritani e i Cavalieri by Bellini; Ernani, I due Foscari, Nabucco, I Lombardi alla prima crociata by Verdi; Un'avventura di Scaramuccia by Ricci; Il Templario by Nicolai; and Il Giuramento by Mercadante.

63 Wolkowicz, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana’, 47–9.

64 The number of newspapers significantly decreased from Rivadavia to Rosas's government due to federalist censorship. Myers, ‘Rosas’, 305.

65 ‘A nuestros suscriptores’, Diario de Avisos (11 Apr. 1850): no page.

66 Wolkowicz, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana’, 31.

67 It also seems like an interesting coincidence that Manuela Rosas's birthday was on 24 May, coinciding with the revolution celebrations that would take place for several days.

68 Total number of performances in national and Rosista celebrations by opera: Norma 5, Ernani 4, Il Pirata 2, I Puritani 2, I due Foscari 2, Lucia di Lammermoor 2, Gemma di Vergy 2, L'elisir d'amore 1, Linda di Chamounix 1, and Nabucco 1.

69 David Kimbell, Vincenzo Bellini: Norma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 1.

70 Bosch, Historia de la ópera en Buenos Aires, 87; and Gesualdo, Historia de la Música en la Argentina, vol. 1, 354.

71 Cristina Magaldi explains that, as in the case of Buenos Aires, no single complete operas were staged during the political instability of the regency from 1831 to 1840, and the reinstatement and ‘operatic frenzy’ returned with the premiere of Norma on 17 January 1844. Cristina Magaldi, Music in Imperial Rio de Janeiro: European Culture in a Tropical Milieu (Lanham: Scarecrow, 2004), 41.

72 The British Packet and Argentine News (2 June 1849): no page.

73 It is curious however that the opera was not fully advertised. In El Diario de la Tarde (1 May 1849, page 2) it is mentioned that the opera was in preparation; however, the first full advertisement of the performance was published prior to the performance held on 26 June. This is probably the reason why Bosch, Gesualdo and Fiorda Kelly have stated that the premiere was held on 26 June, which was actually Norma's second staging (Bosch, Historia de la ópera en Buenos Aires, 100–101; Gesualdo, Historia de la música en la Argentina, vol. 1, 362; Alfredo Fiorda Kelly, Cronología de las óperas, dramas líricos, oratorios, himnos, etc. cantados en Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Imprenta Riera y Cía., 1934): 2).

74 Wolkowicz, ‘La recepción de la ópera italiana’, 43.

75 Diario de la Tarde (29 June 1849): no page.

76 For more information see the newspapers Diario de la Tarde and Diario de Avisos.

77 Edelvira's performance as Norma rekindled the love for this opera among the critics, and her performance erased the boundaries between the singer and the character. As one reviewer expressed: ‘In this passage [in the trio with Adalgisa and Pollione] we doubt between praising the singer or the actress, since in that moment we forget Ida for Norma’. ‘Teatro Lírico’, Diario de la Tarde (18 Jan. 1851): no page.

78 ‘En las representaciones anteriores de Norma, se suprimió siempre en la introducción, la cooperación de la banda militar, como Bellini lo escribió en su ópera, y la aparicion de ésta, causó un efecto muy distinto’. Diario de la Tarde (18 Jan. 1851): no page.

79 ‘Los palcos estaban poblados de distinguidas señoras y señoritas, notando entre ellas a la Señorita Da. Manuelita Rosas que honraba también aquella reunión’. ‘Opera’, Diario de Avisos (14 Jan. 1851): no page.

80 Although Urquiza was a federalist, Rosas's political decisions drove him to align with his enemies. In 1851 Rosas declared war on the Brazil Empire, thus affecting the economic flow between the bordering territories of Entre Ríos and Uruguay. This produced an alliance among Brazil, Uruguay and the provinces of Entre Ríos and Corrientes. On 3 February 1852, the army led by Justo José de Urquiza defeated Rosas's army in the city of Caseros. After the battle, Rosas resigned and went into exile in Southampton until his death in 1877. For more on the fall of the Rosista regime see Halperín Donghi, Historia Argentina 3, 380–409.

81 Martín Rodríguez and Lía Noguera, eds, Escenas federales. Antología del teatro en Buenos Aires durante la época de Rosas (Buenos Aires: Imago Mundi, 2015). By this time, the Rosista slogan ‘Viva la Confederación Argentina. Mueran los salvajes unitarios’ (‘Long live the Argentine Confederation. Death to the savage unitarians’) had included the sentence ‘¡Muera el loco Traidor Salvage [sic] Unitario Urquiza!’ (‘Death to the crazy savage unitarian traitor Urquiza!).

82 For a full synopsis of the opera see Kimbell, Vincenzo Bellini: Norma, 29–41.

83 It is also interesting to see the point made by Thomas Brinkerhoff on how the story of Camila and Uladislao has always been focused on Camila, that is, the female rather than the male protagonists (Uladislao, the lover and Rosas the executioner), and defines that Rosas decision was taken ‘in order to assert his masculinity through patriarchal dominance and to uphold historically and socially defined conceptions of privileged femininity’. Brinkerhoff, ‘A Case of Forbidden Love’, 69.

84 Clément, Catherine, Opera, or the Undoing of Women (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 4Google Scholar.

85 Kimbell, Vincenzo Bellini, 4–8.

86 Rosen, Charles, ‘Romantic Opera: Politics, Trash and High Art’, in The Romantic Generation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 599645Google Scholar, at 601.

87 See Suárez Urtubey, Antecedentes de la musicología en la Argentina, 81–2.

88 Palermo is the name of a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. During Rosas's time, Palermo was located on the outskirts of the city.

89 Contrary to Benito Hortelano's account in which every singer is wearing the red ribbon, Cané only mentions the use of the ribbon by the Gallic chorus.

90 ‘Palermo y la ópera (Segundo artículo)’, Comercio del Plata (16 July 1850): no page.

91 On the literary and musical variants and, thus, the problem of creating an ‘ur’ score of Norma see Brauner, Charles S., ‘Textual Problems in Bellini's “Norma” and “Beatrice di Tenda”’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 29/1 (spring 1976): 99–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

92 Norma (Buenos Aires: Imprenta de la Gaceta Mercantil, 1849). Hereinafter NBA.

93 By ‘original’ I refer to the first libretto published in 1831–32 for the premiere at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, which has become the cristallized version of the libretto that it is known to us today. Yet for practical reasons, I have chosen to use a bilingual (Spanish/Italian) edition based on this first libretto: Norma. Traducción, estudio y comentarios de Roger Alier (Barcelona: Ma Non Troppo, 2002). Hereinafter NO.

94 Norma (Madrid: Imprenta de Sancha, 1841). Hereinafter NM.

95 Norma (Venezia: Tipografia di Giuseppe Molinari, 1844–45). Hereinafter NI.

96 Since the Censorship Commission for the theatre had been abolished in 1848, it is impossible to know the extent of the local adaptations since there are no ‘official’ or state documents that could prove it. Castagnino, El teatro en Buenos Aires durante la época de Rosas, vol. 2, 592.

97 So far there is still concordance between act and scene. Differences will be mentioned when they are not parallel.

98 NBA, 8–9. NM, 6.

99 NO, 67. NI, 8.

100 NO, 78. NI, 12.

101 NBA, 16–17. NM, 14.

102 NBA, 16–17.

103 NI, 12. NM, 16.

104 NO, 80. NI, 13.

105 Adalgisa says ‘Parti … / Mi lascia’ (‘Go away … leave me’). NBA, 18–19. NM, 16.

106 NBA, 22–3. NM, 20.

107 NO, 85. NI, 15.

108 In an 1866 French translation of the libretto, for example, the opera is divided in three acts in the same way as the NBA. However, as it says in its cover, this version is a special adaptation for the French theatre, and at the end of the first act it includes a cavatina taken from Pacini's opera Alessandro nell'Indie. Norma: grand opéra en trois actes (Paris: N. Tresse éditeur, 1866), 5.

109 Norma: ‘Dai voti tuoi ti libero,/ I tuoi legami io frango’ (‘I free you from your vows, and break your bonds’). NO, 92. NI, 17.

110 Adalgisa: ‘Ah. Quest’ è il mio delitto … / Roma gli è patria’ (‘Ah, here is my crime … Rome is his fatherland’), NBA, 30–31. NM, 26. ‘Culla ei non ebbe in Gallia:/ Roma gli è patria’ (‘His cradle is not in Gaul: Rome is his fatherland’), NO, 93. NI, 18.

111 This could have been due to Manuelita's own transcription, or to the printed score she was using to copy.

112 NO, 100–102. NI, 21–2.

113 NBA, 38–9. NM, 34.

114 Norma: ‘Infedele alla patria’ (‘Unfaithful to her fatherland’), NBA, 58–9. NM, 52. ‘Infedele a suoi voti’ (‘Unfaithful to her vows’), NO, 120. NI, 31.

115 Kimbell, Vincenzo Bellini, 44–5.

116 Cecchi, Paolo, ‘Temi letterari e individuazione melodrammatica in ‘Norma’ di Vincenzo Bellini’, Recercare 9 (1997): 121–53Google Scholar, at 152.

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