Who hasn’t heard of the King who killed his wives?
The first Live in HD Broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera was broadcast Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1 p.m. in theaters across the world.
The dramatic performance was of “bel canto” composer, Gaetano Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, historically based on the final years of Queen Anne Boleyn.
The opera is set in England 1536 at Greenwich Castle with the court of King Henry VIII. Act I begins with Queen Anne in despair over the king’s new found lover, whom she does not know is her closest friend and lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour.
The king visits Jane in her quarters, where she reveals her inner conflict over her love for Henry and the love for her queen. The king wishes to dissolve his marriage to Anne; however, he cannot do that without proof of Anne’s infidelity.
King Henry brings Anne’s first lover Lord Percy back from exile. Percy tries to rekindle the flame with Anne by professing his undying love to her, but Anne is persistent with her refusal.
In desperation Percy draws his sword. Mark Smeaton, a page of the court, who was hiding in the Queen’s quarters, also draws his sword.
Suddenly the king and his courtiers find the entire party. Anne, Percy and Smeaton are arrested and the curtain closes.
Act II begins with Anne imprisoned in her London apartments surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting. Jane visits the queen in hopes that she can convince her to confess to adultery to save her life.
Anne refuses, cursing the woman her husband left her for. Finally Jane confesses that she is in fact that very same woman.
Smeaton falsely confesses to having an affair with the queen and is sentenced to death. Percy declares that Anne was his wife before becoming the king’s. Both are found guilty and sentenced to death.
This dramatic and demanding opera for the cast was magnificently performed by all of the singers: Anna Netrebko (Anne Boleyn), Ekaterina Gubanova (Jane Seymour), Tamara Mumford (Mark Smeaton), Stephen Costello (Lord Percy) and Ildar Abdrazakov (Henry VIII).
Mercyhurst College sophomore Tanya Coleman was overwhelmed by watching some of opera’s best on stage. “Anna Netrebko is the best thing to have ever happened, ever” she said.
Freshman Alexa Zeremenko agreed. “I’m really glad I came,” she said.
Both were very impressed by the incredible skill and talent of the performers. These “bel canto” roles are quite demanding on the singer and require a lot of energy and effort.
Netrebko’s mad scene was especially well performed—she allowed her character to overwhelm her voice and acting. There was no longer Netrebko on the stage; Anne Boleyn was present instead.
Stephen Costello’s unbelievable vocal agility and range was simply jaw dropping.
All of the singers were at the top of their games, which is particularly wonderful for the three Russian singers, Netrebko, Gubanova and Abdranzakov because it was the first time the opera was broadcast in Russia.
Overall, it was a must see performance on all accounts.
The next Metropolitan Opera Live in HD broadcast is Richard Wagner’s Siegfried, Sat., Nov.1, at 12 p.m.