Expectations had been running high for the Vienna State Opera’s first-ever staging of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena”, and they were even surpassed thanks to this dream team of vocal giants. Anna Netrebko sparkles in her role debut alongside Elīna Garanča and other superb singers including Elisabeth Kulman, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Francesco Meli.
“Ms. Netrebko scored a personal triumph as Anna Bolena, in what may be her greatest achievement since her ‘Traviata’ at the 2005 Salzburg Festival”, wrote The New York Times. Proudly taking her place among the great prima donnas of history, she gives the role a new dimension, portraying the unjustly condemned Ann Boleyn as a deeply hurt woman burning from within – an intensely human figure. Netrebko transforms herself here into a heartrendingly sincere and realistic heroine, opening a new chapter in her career at the Vienna State Opera as prima donna assoluta.
Providing an ideal counterpart to Anna Netrebko is the Latvian mezzo Elīna Garanča, who joins Netrebko here for their first appearance together on the stage of the Vienna State Opera. Their voices, their characters, their appearance – everything contributes to making them the ideal performers for their roles as rivals. As the man between two women, Italian baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo brings a powerful sensuality to his role as Henry VIII.
Not only the lead roles are cast with outstanding vocalists, but also the smaller roles, such as that of the young page Smeton, who is sung by Elisabeth Kulman. She was hailed by many as “the real discovery of the evening” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and led Die Presse to proclaim: “A secondary character thus became a partner of equal value with the lead singers”. Tenor Francesco Meli renders the part of Anna’s one-time lover Lord Percy with lightness and brilliance. Conductor Evelino Pidò draws “playing of unusual refinement from the State Opera orchestra” (Financial Times), which lovingly supports the cast performing in a classic production by Eric Génovèse and with luxurious costumes by Luisa Spinetalli.
“... Anna Bolena at the Vienna State Opera [is] an Event, with a capital E” (Financial Times).