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4.8 out of 5 stars37
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 August 2015
Beautiful singing by all the cast and the acting was superb.
Netrebko lit up the stage and Garanca is the perfect mezzo.
I never tire of listening to both soprano's and they perfectly complement each other.
Netrebko has tremendous charisma.
Henry the 8th was played very well and Harvey and the musician were not over shadowed at all and the whole ensemble are excellent.
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Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, fell out of favour with Henry because she was failing to provide him with a male heir. Having given birth to a girl, she was then plagued with a series of miscarriages. Having taken a fancy to Jane Seymour, Anne's lady in waiting, Henry contrived to rid himself of Anne so that he could wed Jane, who eventually gave birth to a son who grew into the sickly Prince Edward who became king at the age of nine in 1547 only to die six years later at the age of 15. His sister Mary, daughter of Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, then became Queen (1553-1558). On her death, her younger sister Elisabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, became queen for the next 45 years. From his opera it would seem that Donizetti was very sympathetic towards Anne Boleyn, portraying her as strong and brave in the role of the wronged woman. It was her child and not the child of either Jane Seymour or Catherine of Aragon who would be numbered among the greatest of the great, a fact that is clearly emphasised at the end of the opera when the child Elizabeth walks on stage.

It almost seems as if Donizetti was trying to emphasise that Elizabeth's greatness was due more to having inherited the courage and determination of her mother than from anything she may have inherited from her father. Be that as it may, the opera is composed in such a fashion so as to emphasise the courage and steadfastness of Anne: the glory is all hers whilst those around her behave shamefully in one way or another. Whilst Anne is strong, brave and determined, Jane Seymour is portrayed as a confused young woman in the clutches of a dictator. (After marrying Henry she sadly died within weeks of giving birth to the future Edward VI.) Brave to the last, Anne Boleyn, who had spent some years at the French court, opted to be beheaded after the French fashion. Not for her the head on the block and the fall of the axe. She knelt upright to meet the force of the swinging sword on her neck. Through his music Donizetti brings out the true greatness of this brave woman.

Anna Nebreko is superb in the role of Anna Bolena. It would be hard indeed to better her interpretation of this character. It was as if Anne Boleyn was reincarnated there before me expressing. through the genius of Donizetti's music, what it all must have been like for her when it was actually happening nearly 500 years ago. Elina Garanca is equally good as Giovanna Seymour. In fact, it would be hard to fault any of the singer-actors. Il Debrando D'Arcangelo is perfect in the role of Enrico VIII. (I love the way the Italians translate English names into their language, although the librettist, Felice Romani, seems to have been stumped when it came to coining Italian versions of Seymour and Percy) Elisabeth Kulman is perfect as the page-musician Smeton and I enjoyed Francesco Meli's singing and interpretation of the role of Lord Riccardo Percy. Maybe Dan Paul Dumitresco as Lord Rochefort, Anne's brother isn't quite so 'up to it' as the rest of the cast, but then this is maybe because I've always pictured him somewhat differently when studying history. I can't help feeling sorry that Peter Jelosits as Sir Hervey hasn't more to sing because I like his voice.

All told, this is another great performance by the Vienna State Opera. You could watch it over and over again and never get tired of it. This is bel canto at its best and I'm sure Donizetti would have been thrilled to bits with this production. The staging has been kept simple, which is a good thing really because the music and singing are so riveting that anything too elaborate would be superfluous. I also like the costumes, which I feel reflect the period in question very well. What more can one say except that this is truly an all time great performance of one of Donizetti's greatest works. I'm thrilled to bits with it.
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on 10 April 2015
The production is magnificent and matches the excellent singing. Anna Netrebko is at her best as Anna Bolenene and she is well supported by Elina Garanca as Giovanna Seymour.
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on 11 June 2012
The opera has proved its qualities by liveing so long.
This performance is to be legendary. These two wanderfull sopranos - voices, interpretations and looks - make you believe you are there in 1536.
The orchestra, the coire, all the soloists are so good that it is hard to explain.
So beautyfull.
Excuse my not to good English - as I am not English.
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on 16 August 2013
A fabulous recording with a singer with an exquisite voice. Highly recommend to lovers of good singing. A first class production
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on 16 January 2013
This is a lovely production of this undeservedly lesser known opera. The rich, warm tones of the beautiful Anna Netrebko make a perfect regal, unhappy queen with Elina Garanca providing a perfect foil as Jane Seymour.

The excellent chorus are more than a mere background and make the most of some haunting pieces.

This is a visual treat too - the producer has ensured that the acting and staging are as satisfying as the singing.

I can really recommend this.
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on 9 October 2015
Athletes of song combine with a fine orchestra to make an historic recording.
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on 15 February 2016
So beautiful, and so well cast, making it very believable.
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on 5 May 2012
This recording is terrific in every respect. Superb cast & orchestra exemplary sets
everything & everyone who contributed to recording deserves many thanks.I have been an opera enthusiast for over 60years.& have many recordings I have collected over the
years,

this one is deservedly in the top 5 of my collection.
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on 22 August 2015
Beautifully performed!
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