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Anne is the original Boleyn girl. Few figures in British history have dominated the imaginations of writers, painters and film directors quite like her.
Donizetti’s re-imagining of Anne’s final days in the scheming court of Henry VIII is a touching one. It is a portrait of an innocent stranded in a nest of vipers. You will find it hard not to care deeply for her.
Director Alessandro Talevi’s production will highlight personalities over pageantry, and what personalities! Anna Bolena is an exhilarating jewel of bel canto opera filled with poignant arias and moving duets waiting to be discovered by you.
Supported by a lead gift from the Peter Moores Foundation's Swansong Project and WNO Bel Canto Syndicate.
Cast & Creative
Courtiers discuss the state of royal affairs: Queen Anne’s star is sinking since King Henry VIII has fallen in love with another woman. The Queen admits to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, that she is troubled, and remembers the happiness of her first love.
Jane, who is in fact the King’s new lover, is conscience-stricken but realizes that it is too late to turn back when the King declares his love for her, promising marriage and glory.
Anne’s brother, Lord Rocheford, is surprised to meet Lord Percy, the queen’s former lover. Percy has been called back from exile by the King, who now arrives with a hunting party, followed by Anne and her women. The King has devised Percy’s return as a trap for his wife and orders an officer to spy on the couple.
The page Smeaton, who is in love with the Queen, is on his way to her apartments to return a miniature portrait of her that he had stolen. He hides when Anne appears with Rocheford, who persuades his sister to admit Percy, who is still in love with her. Anne admits that the King no longer loves her but says that she remains faithful. The King bursts in on them and Anne, Percy and Smeaton are arrested.
Anne has been imprisoned and Jane attempts to persuade her to confess her love for Percy, thereby allowing the King to remarry. Anne refuses, and curses the woman who will be her successor. Jane admits that she will be Anne’s successor.
Smeaton has falsely testified to being the Queen’s lover, believing that his confession would save Anne’s life. Anne and Percy are brought before the council. Percy claims that he and Anne are married in the eyes of heaven. Jane pleads with the King to spare Anne’s life but is dismissed. The council’s verdict is announced: the royal marriage is dissolved and Anne must be executed, along with her accomplices.
Anne feverishly imagines that it is her wedding day and remembers her girlhood love for Percy. Her fellow prisoners are brought in and, when the sounds of celebration are heard, Anne realises that the King’s new marriage is inevitable and curses him and his new wife before being led away for execution.