Anna Bolena

Music Gaetano Donizetti Text Felice Romani

16. February 2022
Wednesday
1 intermission
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19. February 2022
Saturday
1 intermission
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Cast 16.02.2022

Conductor Giacomo Sagripanti
Production Eric Génovèse
Set design Jacques Gabel Claire Sternberg
Costume Design Luisa Spinatelli
Lighting Design Bertrand Couderc
Movement director Johannes Haider
Assistant Stage Director Valérie Nègre
Enrico VIII. Erwin Schrott
Anna Bolena Diana Damrau
Giovanna Seymour Ekaterina Semenchuk
Lord Riccardo Percy Pene Pati
Smeton Virginie Verrez

Details

Act 1

Anne Boleyn has been neglected by her husband, the English King Henry VIII. Sadly she recalls her first experience of true love with Lord Richard Percy. Anne once secretly married him in a transport of joy, but left Lord Percy when Henry VIII made her a proposal of marriage. Anne's desire to wear a crown herself made her oblivious to her original love. Although she is now queen, she is nevertheless unhappy. Henry VIII has now secretly fallen in love with Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting. Although Jane reciprocates the king's feelings, but refuses to give in to his entreaties: only if the king marries her will she be willing to surrender herself to him. Henry VIII therefore resolves that Anne Boleyn will have to die. The king knows about Lord Percy's earlier love affair with Anne, but is unaware of their secret marriage. He orders the former to return to the court from exile abroad, and arranges an apparently chance meeting between Lord Percy and Anne Boleyn. The king hopes that the love between the two of them will be rekindled, and that this will enable him to accuse Anne of adultery.
However, Mark Smeaton, Anne's page, is also in love with the queen. Some time previously, he had therefore stolen a medallion bearing Anne's portrait from her chamber. Fearful that it could be discovered on his person, thus revealing his love for Anne, Smeaton resolves to return the stolen medallion to the queen's chamber unnoticed. Just as he is about to do so, Anne and her brother Lord Rochefort enter the room, obliging Smeaton to hide so as not to be seen. Lord Rochefort persuades Anne to meet Lord Percy. When Anne receives him, Percy swears his undying love for her. She also confesses her love for him, but rebuffs him out of loyalty to Henry. When Lord Percy draws a dagger with which to stab himself, Smeaton emerges from his hiding place and throws himself on Percy, erroneously believing that the latter intends to murder Anne. At this moment Henry VIII enters the room. The apparent fight between the two men and Anne's medallion which is found on Smeaton seem to be sufficient proof of the queen's infidelity. Henry now has a pretext for having Anne Boleyn, Smeaton, Lord Percy and Lord Rochefort arrested.

Act 2

Now imprisoned, Anne Boleyn deplores her fate together with her ladies-in-waiting. But she does not even have the consolation of waiting for her trial surrounded by her confidantes: Sir Hervey, an officer of the king, brings the order that the ladies-in-waiting are to leave Anne, and will also have to be questioned. Hardly is Anne alone than Jane Seymour enters and confesses to the queen that she is now Henry's mistress. Anne forgives her, describing the king as the real culprit.
Henry VIII has secretly told Smeaton that Anne can be saved from the scaffold only if Smeaton testifies in court to having had an affair with the queen. The page willingly commits perjury - and in doing so gives the judges the pretext they need for issuing the death sentence. When Henry then discovers that Lord Percy and Anne were married already, the queen seems certain to be convicted on multiple counts of adultery. And although Jane Seymour begs the king to spare the life of Anne Boleyn, four death sentences are passed: on Anne Boleyn, Lord Percy, Smeaton and Lord Rochefort. They are all imprisoned in the Tower of London. Just before the executions are due to be carried out, Sir Hervey brings Lord Percy and Lord Rochefort the news that Henry VIII intends to pardon both men. However, both are determined to die together with Anne Boleyn, and therefore reject the king's clemency.
Anne, now reunited with her ladies-in-waiting, becomes mentally confused. She returns to reality at the distant sound of the celebrations for the wedding of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. She forgives the couple and falls to the floor in a faint. At this moment the guards enter to lead to the doomed Anne to the place of execution.