Dec. 29, 2021, 7 p.m.
[Text by Opernhaus Zurich] As a basis for his opera Anna Bolena, which premiered in 1830, Gaetano Donizetti took a page from the history books, basing his opus on the matrimonial tragedy of King Henry VIII of England. Henry divorced his wife in defiance of the pope in 1533, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Within three years, the king tired of his new wife and concocted a devious plan to accuse and convict her of infidelity. The opera begins with Queen Anne rightly worried that Henry has turned his attention to Jane Seymour, the queen’s lady-in-waiting. Lord Percy, Anne’s childhood friend, is the perfect mark for the queen’s supposed betrayal. Anne is found guilty of breaking her marriage vows in a court of law and is sentenced to death. But before being led away, she forgives everyone.
Although based on true events, Donizetti and his librettist Felice Romani were less interested in historical drama and political conflicts of yore. Their goal was to bring passionate emotions to the stage, and they succeeded. Anna Bolena launched Donizetti’s international career, and the title role is one of the great tragic soprano roles of Romantic opera. The legendary Giuditta Pasta was the first to take on the robes of the proud and ambitious queen made noble by her rejection of revenge. Ever since, the role of Anna Bolena – with its dizzying vocal demands – has been the calling card of numerous notable sopranos.
Anna Bolena is the second of Donizetti’s Tudor queens trilogy to take the stage in Zurich, following 2018’s production of Maria Stuarda. And as in that bel canto gem, the queen in this opera is portrayed by international superstar soprano Diana Damrau, who makes her role debut with this production. At her side is Luca Pisaroni as King Henry VIII and Karine Deshayes as Anne’s rival Jane Seymour. The production is in the hands of American stage director David Alden, and Enrique Mazzolla, a noted expert in Italian bel canto repertoire, is once again at the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich.
Kulturstelle contact: Alexander Fink email
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