Metropolitan Opera 2015-16 Preview: Sondra Radvanovsky to Sing 'Anna Bolena', Jamie Barton Returns to the Met
On Sept. 26 the Metropolitan Opera will revive Donizetti's "Anna Bolena" with Sondra Radvanovsky in the leading role and Elina Garanca as Giovanna Seymour.
The opera made its world premiere in 1830 and is known as Donizetti's first major success. The opera is also considered the first of the Tudor trilogy for which Donizetti has become recognized.
The opera is particularly famous for Donizetti's powerful and abundant use of melodies that in context reveal a deeper dramatic purpose. In particular, that is revealed in the 20 minute mad scene that concludes the opera. As Anna awaits her execution, the singer must go through a series of emotions and mental conditions, including terror, illusory calm and confusion bordering on hallucination. All these emotions lead up to the climactic outburst "Coppia Iniqua," which is noted as a masterpiece of musical insight and a superb example of the opera's ability to explore the human dimensions behind history.
The opera is also known for its demanding title role. Anna Bolena is considered one of the most difficult soprano roles in particular because of its length and the range the soprano needs for the role.
Although "Anna Bolena" became one of the soprano staples in the 1950s thanks in part to Maria Callas, the opera did not make its Met premiere until 2011. The reason for this late premiere was due to Rudolf Bing, who was the general manager of the Met in the 40s, 50s and 60s. He told Callas that the opera was a bore and as a result was never performed.
In 2011 "Anna Bolena" finally premiered on opening night with soprano Anna Netrebko in the title role in a production directed by David McVicar. The opera was performed 12 times that season and broadcast on the Met's HD series.
David McVicar directed the production and attempted to create a realistic setting. In particular the costumes by Jenny Tiramani were said to emulate the time period using real corsets. According to singers, the costumes could take up to half an hour to be put on.
In addition to Netrebko portraying the title role, Angela Meade was also given several performances in the production.
Sondra Radvanovsky will take on the title role of Anna Bolena for the first time at the Met. The soprano recently made her role debut at the Washington State Opera where she triumphed. She later went on to sing the role at the Chicago Lyric Opera. Her assumption of Anna Bolena will begin the Tudor cycle, which Radvanovsky will take on for the first time and make Met history. Her "Anna Bolena" performances will be followed by "Maria Stuarda" and "Roberto Devereux."
Jamie Barton will sing the role of Giovanna Seymour for the first time at the Met. The mezzo-soprano sang it with Radvanovsky last season at the Chicago Opera. It marks her return to the Met after a successful debut in Bellini's "Norma."
Stephen Costello will return to Percy, which he sang in 2011 while Ildar Abdrazakov will also reprise his turn as Enrico VIII. Tamara Mumford will also sing Smeton, a role that brought her attention at the Met.
Marco Armiliato will conduct the seven performances of the opera this season.
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