Henry Vll - Saint-Saëns: I have had the CD's of this opera for some time now; from the same production, and I was elated when I saw it had been released on DVD. Having viewed it, my opinion of this under-produced opera has strengthened. It is well cast and the settings and costumes are sumptuous to say the least. Philippe ROUILLON is a formidable Henry, in fact one could be forgiven for confusing him with the real Henry. Michèle COMMAND gives a commanding performance as Catherine of Aragon (if you'll pardon the pun). Her rendition of "À ta bonté souveraine," from Act lll, just about brought the house down.
Lucile VIGNON's light Mezzo voice gives Anne Bolyn just the right weight. Alain GABRIEL as Don Gomez has a nice light tenor voice, however a little under-powered for what the role demands. I don't know whether it was the positioning of the microphones or what, but in the ensembles the soloists tended to get lost. One really had to strain to pick them out. The production was first rate and the sound over-all was excellent even if it was only in 2 channel stereo. Permanent English subtitles to follow the plot.
The End credits and encores went nearly as long as the opera. This is a generous DVD with a total playing time of just over 200 minutes. My only gripe with Kultur DVD's is the limited information you get with them. Only a slick with the tracks on it, but, I suppose we should be grateful for that. Let's hope that this will start a revival of Henry Vlll's in our opera houses. If you are seriously into French Opera, bye it, you won't be disappointed.