Opera Scotland

Anna Bolena 2008English Touring Opera

Read more about the opera Anna Bolena

This wasn't quite the Scottish premiere of such a famous opera. Certainly it was the first performance since the 19th century - several of Donizetti's great lyric tragedies did appear in Scotland in those early years. Mapleson brought it to Edinburgh in 1872.

It was seen here at the Perth Festival  in tandem with two performances of Don Giovanni. Frustratingly, the third work on the tour, the UK premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, was left south of the border.

What a cracker of a piece Anna Bolena is – perhaps not as good as Lucia, but full of superb music, dramatically presented. The straightforward, ungimmicky, period production by James Conway looked fine, with sliding panels allowing for good atmosphere and quick changes, even on the small Perth stage,  Perhaps cameo appearances in mime by Archbishop Cranmer and Mary Tudor were gilding the lily, but a minor defect.  Michael Lloyd drew idiomatic results from the fine chamber orchestra and small chorus.

The ETO cast gave a very good account of some fiendishly difficult roles in the final performance of a long tour.  Julie Unwin, hitherto familiar in Mozart and Puccini, took to the bel canto style with ease and  was absolutely tireless in a long and demanding part.  Julia Riley was also very successful as Jane Seymour.  Niamh Kelly only took over from Serena Kay for the last two performances, but was a confident, boyish Smeton.

Riccardo Simonetti was an appropriately dominant figure as the king, while the young Brazilian tenor can have surprised no-one with his progress when he appeared in the cast of the Barber of Seville at Covent Garden in 2011.  Even the tiny role of Hervey boasted, in American Todd Wilander, an excellent Donizettian tenor, who had taken the title role in Roberto Devereux at the previous year's Buxton Festival.  Clearly recruited for a major role in the Floyd and an accomplished cover for Percy, if needed, this was an excellent example of company ensemble spirit.

Performance Cast

Anna Bolena Anne Boleyn, second Queen to Henry VIII

Julie Unwin

Giovanna Jane Seymour, Anne's lady-in-waiting

Julia Riley

Enrico Henry VIII, King of England

Riccardo Simonetti

Rochefort Lord Rochford, brother of Anne, friend of Percy

Jonathan Pugsley

Riccardo Lord Percy, formerly betrothed to Anne

Luciano Botelho

Hervey Lord Hervey, Court Official

Todd Wilander

Smeton Mark Smeaton, page and musician

Niamh Kelly

Performance DatesAnna Bolena 2008

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

24 May, 19.30

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