|Opera by Gaetano Donizetti|
Giuditta Pasta in the title role
26 December 1830
Teatro Carcano, Milan
Anna Bolena is a tragic opera (tragedia lirica) in two acts composed by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after Ippolito Pindemonte's Enrico VIII ossia Anna Bolena and Alessandro Pepoli's Anna Bolena, both recounting the life of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's King Henry VIII.
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer. Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti's close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi.
Felice Romani was an Italian poet and scholar of literature and mythology who wrote many librettos for the opera composers Donizetti and Bellini. Romani was considered the finest Italian librettist between Metastasio and Boito.
It is one of four operas by Donizetti dealing with the Tudor period in English history—in composition order, Il castello di Kenilworth (1829), Anna Bolena (1830), Maria Stuarda (named for Mary, Queen of Scots, it appeared in different forms in 1834 and 1835), and Roberto Devereux (1837, named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I of England). The leading female characters of the latter three operas are often referred to as "the Three Donizetti Queens."
The Tudor period is the period between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales and includes the Elizabethan period during the reign of Elizabeth I until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the House of Tudor in England whose first monarch was Henry VII (1457–1509). In terms of the entire span, the historian John Guy (1988) argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors" than at any time in a thousand years.
England became inhabited more than 800,000 years ago, as the discovery of stone tools and footprints at Happisburgh in Norfolk has revealed. The earliest evidence for early modern humans in North West Europe, a jawbone discovered in Devon at Kents Cavern in 1927, was re-dated in 2011 to between 41,000 and 44,000 years old. Continuous human habitation in England dates to around 13,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period. The region has numerous remains from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age, such as Stonehenge and Avebury. In the Iron Age, England, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was inhabited by the Celtic people known as the Britons, including some Belgic tribes in the south east. In AD 43 the Roman conquest of Britain began; the Romans maintained control of their province of Britannia until the early 5th century.
Il castello di Kenilworth is a melodramma serio or tragic opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Andrea Leone Tottola wrote the Italian libretto after Victor Hugo's play Amy Robsart (1828) and Eugene Scribe's play Leicester, both of which following from Scott's novel Kenilworth (1821). Daniel Auber composed another opera on the same subject, Leicester, ou Le chateau de Kenilworth in 1823.
Anna Bolena premiered on 26 December 1830 at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, to "overwhelming success." Weinstock notes that only after this success did Donizetti's teacher, Johann Simon Mayr, "address his former pupil as Maestro."The composer had begun "to emerge as one of three most luminous names in the world of Italian opera", alongside Bellini and Rossini.
The Teatro Carcano is a theatre in Milan, Italy located at 63 Corso di Porta Romana. Although now exclusively devoted to plays and dance, it served as an opera house for much of the 19th century and saw the premieres of several important operas. Completed in 1803, the theatre was commissioned by the Milanese aristocrat and theatre-lover Giuseppe Carcano and originally designed by Luigi Canonica. Over the succeeding two centuries it has undergone several restructurings and renovations and for time in the mid-20th century functioned as a cinema.
Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer, who was known for his long-flowing melodic lines for which he was named "the Swan of Catania". Many years later, in 1898, Giuseppe Verdi "praised the broad curves of Bellini's melody: 'there are extremely long melodies as no-one else had ever made before'."
After its opening performances in Italy in 1830, Anna Bolena was first given in London at the King's Theatre on 8 July 1831. Its first US performance was given in French (as Anne de Boulen) in New Orleans, at the Théâtre d'Orléans on 12 November 1839.The New York premiere of the opera, and the first Italian presentation of the work in the United States, took place at the Astor Opera House on January 7, 1850 with conductor Max Maretzek and Apollonia Bertucca in the title role. It appears to have been presented in Europe, up to 1850, in 25 cities and then again in 1881 in Livorno. After the rise of verismo , it was performed infrequently.
The Théâtre d'Orléans was the most important opera house in New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century. The company performed in French and gave the American premieres of many French operas. It was located on Orleans Street between Royal and Bourbon. The plans for the theatre were drawn up by Louis Tabary, a refugee from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Construction began in 1806, but the opening was delayed until October 1815. After a fire, it was rebuilt and reopened in 1819, led by another émigré from Saint-Domingue, John Davis. Davis became one of the major figures in French theatre in New Orleans. The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1866, but the ballroom is still used.
The Astor Opera House, also known as the Astor Place Opera House and later the Astor Place Theatre, was an opera house in Manhattan, New York City, located on Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 8th Street. Designed by Isaiah Rogers, the theater was conceived by impresario Edward Fry, the brother of composer William Henry Fry, who managed the opera house during its entire history.
Max Maretzek was a Moravian-born composer, conductor, and impresario active in the United States and Latin America.
20th century and beyond
Rarely seen in the first half of the 20th century, it was revived more frequently after World War II. On 30 December 1947, the opera was performed at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, to mark that theatre's centennial (it had opened in 1847 with Anna Bolena). The cast was Sara Scuderi as Anna, Giulietta Simionato as Jane Seymour and Cesare Siepi as Henry VIII. In April 1957, the opera was revived at La Scala for Maria Callas (one of the twelve performances was recorded) in a lavish production directed by Luchino Visconti, with Giulietta Simionato as Jane Seymour. It proved to be one of Callas' greatest triumphs.
Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.
Sara Scuderi was an Italian opera singer. She sang widely in Italy and Europe, having had a seven-year contract at La Scala, "where she received high praise for her interpretations of the most well-known operas".
Giulietta Simionato was an Italian mezzo-soprano. Her career spanned the period from the 1930s until her retirement in 1966. She famously slapped Maria Callas across the face once, although eventually the two became friends.
Since its 1850 performance, the opera was not performed again in the United States until it was presented in a concert version by the American Opera Society in October 1957 with Gloria Davy the title role and Simionato as Giovanna Seymour for performances at both Town Hall and Carnegie Hall.On 26 June 1959, the Santa Fe Opera mounted the first fully staged production of the work since 1839. Several famous modern sopranos have lent their voices to the role, including Leyla Gencer, Montserrat Caballé, Marisa Galvany, Renata Scotto, Edita Gruberova and Mariella Devia. In the 1970s, Beverly Sills earned a considerable degree of fame when she appeared in all three of Donizetti's "Tudor" operas at the New York City Opera. (She also made studio recordings of all three operas.) And Anna was one of the last new roles performed by Dame Joan Sutherland, in a concert version in the 1980s.
The American Opera Society (AOS) was a New York City based musical organization that presented concert and semi-staged performances of operas between 1951 and 1970. The company was highly influential in sparking and perpetuating the post World War II bel canto revival, particularly through a number of highly lauded productions of rarely heard works by Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Vincenzo Bellini. The AOS also presented many operas to the American public for the first time, including the United States premieres of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd, Giuseppe Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, George Frideric Handel's Hercules and Hector Berlioz's Les troyens to name just a few.
Gloria Davy was a Swiss soprano of American birth who had an active international career in operas and concerts from the 1950s through the 1980s. A talented spinto soprano, she was widely acclaimed for her portrayal of the title role in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida; a role she performed in many of the world's top opera houses. She was notably the first black artist to perform the role of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1958. While she performed a broad repertoire, she was particularly admired for her interpretations of 20th-century music, including the works of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith.
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east side of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.
While not yet part of the "standard repertory", Anna Bolena is increasingly performed today,and there are several recordings.
It was presented by the Dallas Opera in November 2010, which has also staged Maria Stuarda. The Minnesota Opera presented Anna Bolena as part of the "Three Queens" trilogy. The Vienna State Opera gave it in the Spring of 2011, with Anna Netrebko in the title role and Elīna Garanča as Giovanna Seymour. New York's Metropolitan Opera mounted it for the first time in September 2011, opening the company's 2011-2012 season, with Netrebko and with David McVicar directing.Opera Seria UK in Manchester, England, staged Anna Bolena in 2012 as the first in their "Tudor Queens" trilogy, which continues into 2014. And the Welsh National Opera presented the trilogy between September and November 2013, in many different venues in Britain. The Lyric Opera of Chicago also included Anna Bolena in their 2014-2015 season. Sondra Radvanovsky has sung the title role at several opera houses including the Met in 2015.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 26 December 1830|
(Conductor: - )
|Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn)||soprano||Giuditta Pasta|
|Enrico (Henry VIII)||bass||Filippo Galli|
|Giovanna Seymour (Jane Seymour), Anna's lady-in-waiting||mezzo-soprano||Elisa Orlandi|
|Lord Rochefort (George Boleyn), Anna's brother||bass||Lorenzo Biondi|
|Riccardo Percy (Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland)||tenor||Giovanni Battista Rubini|
|Smeton (Mark Smeaton), musician||contralto||Henriette Laroche|
|Hervey, court official||tenor||Antonio Crippa|
|Courtiers, soldiers, huntsmen|
Scene One: Night. Windsor Castle, Queen's apartments
Courtiers comment that the queen’s star is setting, because the king’s fickle heart burns with another love.
Jane Seymour enters to attend a call by the Queen; Anna enters and notes that people seem sad. The queen admits to Jane that she is troubled. At the queen’s request, her page Smeaton plays the harp and sings in an attempt to cheer the people present. The queen asks him to stop. Unheard by any one else, she says to herself that the ashes of her first love are still burning, and that she is now unhappy in her vain splendor. All leave, except Jane.
Henry VIII enters and tells Jane that soon she will have no rival, that the altar has been prepared for her, and that she will have husband, sceptre, and throne. Each leaves by a different door.
Scene Two: Day. Around Windsor Castle
Lord Rochefort, Anna’s brother, is surprised to meet Lord Richard Percy, who has been called back to England from exile by Henry VIII. Percy asks if it is true that the Queen is unhappy and that the King has changed. Rochefort answers that love is never content.
Hunters enter. Percy is agitated at the prospect of possibly seeing Anna, who was his first love. Henry and Anna enter and express surprise at seeing Percy. Henry does not allow Percy to kiss his hand, but says that Anna has given him assurances of Percy’s innocence but she still has feelings for Percy. Henry VIII tells Hervey, an officer of the king, to spy on every step and every word of Anna and Percy.
Scene Three: Windsor Castle, close to the Queen's apartments
Smeaton takes a locket from his breast containing Anna’s portrait. He has stolen it and has come to return it. He hears a sound and hides behind a screen. Anna and Rochefort enter. Rochefort asks Anna to hear Percy. Then he leaves. Smeaton peeps out from behind the screen, but cannot escape. Percy enters. Percy says that he sees that Anna is unhappy. She tells him that the king now loathes her. Percy says that he still loves her. Anna tells him not to speak to her of love. Before leaving, Percy asks whether he can see Anna again. She says no. He draws his sword to stab himself, and Anna screams. In the mistaken belief that Percy is attacking Anna, Smeaton rushes out from behind the screen. Smeaton and Percy are about to fight. Anna faints, and Rochefort rushes in. Just then, Henry VIII enters and sees the unsheathed swords. Summoning attendants, he says that these persons have betrayed their king. Smeaton says that it is not true, and tears open his tunic to offer his breast to the king for slaying if he is lying. The locket with Anna’s portrait falls at the king’s feet. The king snatches it up. He orders that the offenders be dragged to dungeons. Anna says to herself that her fate is sealed.
Scene One: London. Antechamber of the Queen's apartments
The guards note that even Jane Seymour has stayed away from Anna. Anna enters with a retinue of ladies, who tell her to place her trust in heaven. Hervey enters and says that the Council of Peers has summoned the ladies into its presence. The ladies leave with Hervey. Jane enters and says that Anna can avoid being put to death by admitting guilt. Anna says that she will not buy her life with infamy. She expresses the hope that her successor will wear a crown of thorns. Jane admits that she is to be the successor. Anna tells her to leave, but says that Henry VIII alone is the guilty one. Jane leaves, deeply upset.
Scene Two: Antechamber leading into the hall where the Council of Peers is meeting
Hervey tells courtiers that Anna is lost, because Smeaton has talked and has revealed a crime. Henry VIII enters. Hervey says that Smeaton has fallen into the trap. Henry VIII tells Hervey to continue to let Smeaton believe that he has saved Anna's life. Anna and Percy are brought in, separately. Henry VIII says that Anna has made love to the page Smeaton, and that there are witnesses. He says that both Anna and Percy will die. Percy says that it is written in heaven that he and Anna are married. They are led away by guards.
Jane enters. She says that she does not want to be the cause of Anna's death. Henry VIII says that she will not save Anna by leaving. Hervey enters and says that the Council has dissolved the royal marriage and has condemned Anna and her accomplices to death. Courtiers and Jane ask the king to be merciful. He tells them to leave.
Scene Three: Tower of London
Percy and Rochefort are together in their cell. Hervey enters and says that the king has pardoned them. They ask about Anna. Hearing that she is to be executed, they choose to be executed also. They leave, surrounded by guards.
In Anna's cell, a chorus of ladies comment on her madness and grief. Anna enters, she imagines that it is her wedding day to the king. Then she imagines that she sees Percy, and she asks him to take her back to her childhood home (Donizetti used the theme from the English/American song Home Sweet Home as part of Anna’s Mad Scene to underscore her longing). Percy, Rochefort and Smeaton are brought in. Smeaton throws himself at Anna's feet and says that he accused her in the belief that he was saving her life. In her delirium, Anna asks him why he is not playing his lute. The sound of cannon is heard. Anna comes to her senses. She is told that Jane and Henry VIII are being acclaimed by the populace on their wedding day. Anna says that she does not invoke vengeance on the wicked couple. She faints. Guards enter to lead the prisoners to the block. Smeaton, Percy and Rochefort say that one victim has already been sacrificed.
1988 Dame Joan Sutherland, Samuel Ramey, Jerry Hadley, Susanne Mentzer, Richard Bonynge, Orchestra and Chorus of the Welsh National Opera, CD: London, Cat: 421 096-2
Opera House and Orchestra
|1957|| Maria Callas,|
| Gianandrea Gavazzeni,|
Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan
(Recorded live on 14 April)
Cat: CDMB 5 66474-2
|1958|| Leyla Gencer,|
Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della RAI di Milano
Cat: ANDRCD 5114
|Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Glyndebourne Festival,|
London Philharmonic Orchestra,
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
(Recorded live on 13 June)
Cat: CD 554
|1967|| Teresa Żylis-Gara,|
| Alberto Erede,|
Orchester und Chor des Westdeutschen Rundfunks Cologne
|CD: Opera Depot|
Cat: OD 10388-2
|1968/69|| Elena Souliotis,|
| Silvio Varviso,|
Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Cat: 455 069-2
|1972|| Beverly Sills,|
| Julius Rudel,|
London Symphony Orchestra
John Alldis Choir
|CD: DG Westminster Legacy|
Cat: 471 217-2
|1975|| Renata Scotto,|
| Julius Rudel,|
Opera Company of Philadelphia (Recorded "live" on December 16)
|CD: Opera Depot|
|1984||Dame Joan Sutherland,|
| Richard Bonynge,|
Orchestra and Chorus of the
Canadian Opera Company
|1994|| Edita Gruberova,|
Hungarian Radio Chorus and Orchestra
|CD: Nightingale Classics|
Cat: NCO 070565-2
|Fabrizio Maria Carminati,|
Orchestra and Chorus of the
Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti
(Recorded at Teatro Donizetti in October)
|DVD: Dynamic |
|2011|| Anna Netrebko, |
| Evelino Pidò |
Orchestra and Chorus of the
Vienna State Opera
|DVD: Deutsche Gramophon|
DDD 0440 073 4725 6 GH2
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