Opera has never lacked for soprano showcases, but Anna Bolena has diva running especially deep in its DNA.
Donizetti wrote the work in the fall of 1830 in Como, Italy, at a villa owned by the great singer Giuditta Pasta, who was to star as Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife. It may have been Pasta’s epic presence—we are told that “no language could convey an idea of the beauty, the intensity, the sublimity of her acting”—or Felice Romani’s deep, humane libretto or Donizetti’s readiness to bring his artistry to a new level. Whatever the explanation, the result was a triumph: one of the great operas of all time and one of the great roles, a test of both vocal display and vocal control that culminates in a brilliant final scene in which the queen, unjustly accused of adultery, prepares to be executed.
But by the late 19th century it had mostly vanished from the repertory, and it had never been done at the Metropolitan Opera before Monday evening, when it opened the company’s 128th season as a vehicle for the Met’s star soprano, Anna Netrebko. Read More