Gaetano Donizetti

Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena

Wiener Staatsoper, Release 04 Nov. 2011
Anna Bolena, Anna Netrebko
Enrico VIII, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo
Giovanna di Seymour, Elina Garanca
Chor und Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Direttore, Evelino Pidò

Anna Bolena ( Donizetti ). Libretto by Felice Romani ; 2 acts; first performance at Milan 1830.

England, 1536 : Enrico (King Henry VIII) is losing interest in Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) in favour of Giovanna (Jane) Seymour . At a hunting party, Anna meets her first love, Lord Riccardo (Richard) Percy , who has heard about her unhappiness and questions her brother, Lord Rochefort. Smeton, himself in love with Anna, overhears Rochefort arranging for Anna to see Percy. When she admits to Percy how unhappy she is, he confesses he still loves her. The King, finding them together, accuses her of infidelity and commits her to the Tower to await trial. Giovanna tells her that the King will spare her if she admits her guilt. Percy offers to die in her place, but Anna is led to the scaffold, together with Percy and Rochefort, as the wedding of Enrico and Giovanna is announced.

 

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."
 

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.
 

Roles

ANNA BOLENA
 

Tragic opera 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.

Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn)
Enrico (Henry VIII)
Giovanna Seymour (Jane Seymour),
Anna's lady-in-waiting
Lord Rochefort (George Boleyn), Anna's brother   
Riccardo Percy (Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland)
Smeton (Mark Smeaton),
musician
Hervey, court official
Courtiers, soldiers, huntsmen


 

Time: 1536
Place: Windsor and London

First performance at Milan, 26 December 1830

Characters

Anna Bolena:

 

Soprano. Second wife of Enrico (King Henry VIII), she is being discarded in favour of Giovanna (Jane) Seymour. She confesses her unhappiness to Lord Percy, her first love, and he declares his love for her. The King, anxious to find a treasonable offence with which to accuse Anna, finds them together and commits her to the Tower to await trial. Giovanna tries to persuade her to save herself by saying that she is guilty and begging the King’s pardon, but she will not do so. As the King and Giovanna’s wedding is announced, Anna is led to the scaffold. Aria: Cielo, a' miei lunghi spasimi (‘Heaven grant an end to my long agonies’)—the tune of this aria is easily recognized as a decorated version of Henry Bishop’s Home, sweet home). This long-neglected opera was revived in 1956 at Bergamo, Donizetti’s birthplace. That performance was seen by Gianandrea Gavazzeni, conductor at La Scala, Milan, who recognized it as an ideal vehicle for the talent, both vocal and dramatic, of Maria Callas. It was staged for her at La Scala the following year. Created (1830) by Giuditta Pasta.

Anna Bolena, 1533

Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Henry's marriage to her, and her subsequent execution by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Queen Claude of France. Anne returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans were broken off, and instead she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In February or March 1526, Henry VIII began his pursuit of Anne. She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress, which her sister Mary had been. It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry's desires to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he would be free to marry Anne. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, the breaking of the Catholic Church's power in England began. In 1532, Henry granted Anne the Marquessate of Pembroke.

Henry and Anne formally married on 25 January 1533, after a secret wedding on 14 November 1532. On 23 May 1533, newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage valid. Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against Henry and Cranmer. As a result of this marriage and these excommunications, the first break between the Church of England and Rome took place and the Church of England was brought under the King's control. Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533. On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I. Henry was disappointed to have a daughter rather than a son but hoped a son would follow and professed to love Elizabeth. Anne subsequently had three miscarriages, and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour. In order to marry Jane Seymour, Henry had to find reasons to end the marriage to Anne.

Henry VIII had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. On 2 May she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers – which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed, and her own uncle, Thomas Howard – and found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later. 

Gaetano Donizetti - ANNA BOLENA

Anna Bolena - MARIA CALLAS
Giovanna Seymour - GIULIETTA SIMIONATO
Enrico VIII - NICOLA ROSSI LEMENI
Lord Percy - GIANNI RAIMONDI
Lord Rochefort - PLINIO CLABASSI
Smeton - GABRIELLA CARTURAN
Hervey - LUIGI RUMBO

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala
Direttore - GIANANDREA GAVAZZENI

Regia - LUCHINO VISCONTI

Milano - Teatro alla Scala - 1957

Enrico:

 

King Henry VIII. Bass. The King of England is losing interest in his second wife, Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn), and now favours Giovanna (Jane) Seymour. In his attempts to find Anna guilty of treason, he encourages her old love, Lord Percy, to return. When he finds them innocently together, the King sends Anna to the Tower to await trial. Despite all the protests of Percy, her brother Rochefort, and her page, he sentences her to the scaffold. Created (1830) by Filippo Galli.

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 1509 until his death. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII.

Henry is best known for his six marriages and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries. Despite his resulting excommunication, Henry remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings.

Domestically, Henry is known for his radical changes to the English Constitution, ushering into England the theory of the divine right of kings. Besides asserting the sovereign's supremacy over the Church of England, he greatly expanded royal power during his reign. Charges of treason and heresy were commonly used to quell dissent, and those accused were often executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder. He achieved many of his political aims through the work of his chief ministers, some of whom were banished or executed when they fell out of his favour. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer all figured prominently in Henry's administration. 

Portrait of Henry VIII by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger

Marriage to Anne Boleyn

In the winter of 1532, Henry met with Francis I at Calais and enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage. Immediately upon returning to Dover in England, Henry, now 41, and Anne, now 32, went through a secret wedding service. She soon became pregnant, and there was a second wedding service in London on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer, sitting in judgment at a special court convened at Dunstable Priory to rule on the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void. Five days later, on 28 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be valid. Catherine was formally stripped of her title as queen, becoming instead "princess dowager" as the widow of Arthur. In her place, Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533. The queen gave birth to a daughter slightly prematurely on 7 September 1533. The child was christened Elizabeth, in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York.

The king and queen were not pleased with married life. The royal couple enjoyed periods of calm and affection, but Anne refused to play the submissive role expected of her. The vivacity and opinionated intellect that had made her so attractive as an illicit lover made her too independent for the largely ceremonial role of a royal wife and it made her many enemies. For his part, Henry disliked Anne's constant irritability and violent temper. After a false pregnancy or miscarriage in 1534, he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. As early as Christmas 1534, Henry was discussing with Cranmer and Cromwell the chances of leaving Anne without having to return to Catherine. Henry is traditionally believed to have had an affair with Margaret ("Madge") Shelton in 1535, although historian Antonia Fraser argues that Henry in fact had an affair with her sister Mary Shelton.
 

Execution of Anne Boleyn
 

On 8 January 1536 news reached the king and the queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. Henry called for public displays of joy regarding Catherine's death. The queen was pregnant again, and she was aware of the consequences if she failed to give birth to a son. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and was badly injured and it seemed for a time that his life was in danger. When news of this accident reached the queen, she was sent into shock and miscarried a male child that was about 15 weeks old, on the day of Catherine's funeral, 29 January 1536.For most observers, this personal loss was the beginning of the end of the royal marriage.

Anne's downfall came shortly after she had recovered from her final miscarriage. Whether it was primarily the result of allegations of conspiracy, adultery, or witchcraft remains a matter of debate among historians. Early signs of a fall from grace included the King's new mistress, the 28-year-old Jane Seymour, being moved into new quarters, and Anne's brother, George Boleyn, being refused the Order of the Garter, which was instead given to Nicholas Carew. Between 30 April and 2 May, five men, including Anne's brother, were arrested on charges of treasonable adultery and accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. Anne was also arrested, accused of treasonous adultery and incest. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536. At 8 am on 19 May 1536, Anne was executed on Tower Green.

Anna Bolena - Gaetano Donizetti - 1988

Anna Bolena - Joan Sutherland
Enrico VIII - Dimitri Kavrakos
Seymour - Susanne Mentzer
Percy - John Aler
Smeton - Eirian James
Hervey - Kim Begley
Rochfort - Peter Rose

Conductor - Richard Bonynge

Giovanna Seymour:


Mezzo-soprano. Lady‐in‐Waiting to the Queen (Anna Bolena) and now the King's mistress. Her conscience troubles her, torn between her loyalty to the Queen and the thought of being her successor. She first begs the King to release her, then pleads with Anna to confess to adultery (which she has not committed) and beg the King's forgiveness. Created (1830) by Elisa Orlandi.

Jane Seymour (c. 1508 – 24 October 1537) was Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who became King Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, just one day after Anne Boleyn's execution. The couple were married at the Palace of Whitehall, Whitehall, London, in the Queen's closet by Bishop Gardiner on 30 May 1536. She was publicly proclaimed queen on 4 June 1536. Jane's well-publicised sympathy for the late Queen Catherine and her daughter Mary showed her to be compassionate and made her a popular figure with the common people and most of the courtiers. As queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict and formal. Jane would form a close relationship with her stepdaughter, Mary.  Her motto as a queen was "Bound to obey and serve."

 

She died on 24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Jane Seymour was buried on 12 November 1537 in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after the funeral in which her stepdaughter, Mary, acted as chief mourner. Jane was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral.

Hans Holbein the Younger - Jane Seymour, Queen of England

Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena 
"Coppia iniqua" (Anna Netrebko)

Synopsis

ACT I
 

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
 

ACT II
 

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.

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