Anna Bolena

Donizetti Anna Bolena opera to a libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2013 by Cesare Scarton in Rieti, Italy. Stars Federico Benetti (Enrico VIII, King of England), Marta Torbidoni (Anna Bolena, his wife), Laura Polverelli (Giovanna or Jane Seymour, Anna’s lady-in-waiting), Dionisos Tsantinis (Lord Rochefort, Anna’s brother), Moisés Marín García (Lord Percy), Martina Belli (Smeton, musician), and Carlo Allemano (Sir Hervey, court official). Fabio Biondi conducts the Europa Galante (period-instrument chamber orchestra) and the Belcanto Chorus (Chorus Master Martino Faggiani). Set design by Michele Della Cioppa; costume design by Anna Biagiotti; light design by Corrado Rea. Released 2015, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio. Grade: Help!

Anna Bolena is usually presented as an elaborate historical piece set in England in 1536: we have a good HDVD example of this staring Anna Netrebko complete with the crushing late scene where the 3-year-old future Queen Elisabeth I toddles on the screen to kiss her mother goodbye just before her mother is murdered by her father. Fabio Biondi, who founded and directs the small-scale Europe Galante orchestra, apparently had the idea of paring back everything in Anna Bolena and setting it 300 years later in the time Donizetti wrote it (about 1830). And Biondi's doing this with all-Italian forces in the tiny town of Rieti about 40 miles from Rome. It's fitting then that Dynamic would publish this. Dynamic has a huge vault of Italian operas in DVDs, but most of them don't have the production values needed to survive in the HD entertainment era. You keep reading about how Italian opera is collapsing---maybe Biondi and Dynamic can show a way forward for the Italians. (And I wonder if they will have Elizabeth appear at the end.)

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