Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn).......Anna Netrebko
Giovanna (Jane Seymour).........Ekaterina Gubanova
Enrico (Henry VIII).............Ildar Abdrazakov
Riccardo (Lord Richard Percy)...Stephen Costello
Mark Smeaton....................Tamara Mumford
Lord Rochefort..................Keith Miller
Sir Hervey......................Eduardo Valdes
If you look at the numbers running along the left side of the screen, you will see that the singer with the most blog entries is Anna Netrebko. There is a reason for this. Over the period that I have been blogging by far the most exciting singer out there has been Anna Netrebko.
I used to correspond with another fan of Cecilia Bartoli, and he was mystified that I would like both Cecilia and Anna. To him they are apples and oranges. Cecilia is heavily articulated in the fast notes while Anna is slurred. Why would the same person like both of them? This is because each sets out to define her musical universe and then works to produce the best possible examples of this universe. Art is about individual expression. When you go to see Anna or Cecilia, she brings it.
Today Anna brought it to Anna Bolena. By the end of the opera I was sobbing, a first for the simulcasts. She was magnificent. La Cieca has designated her the prima donna assoluta. Perish the thought that I would agree with La Cieca, but I do. As her voice expands, so does her presence. She dominates the stage as few opera singers ever have, and I've seen a few opera singers. There is simply no one like her.
The production was smooth and somber. I liked seeing Princess Elizabeth in the first scene. For two of the four main singers, Ekaterina Gubanova as Seymour and Ildar Abdrazakov as Enrico, were new to this opera. I don't doubt that it has been better to see them late in the run. I thought both of them projected their characters well. Ildar was astoundingly arrogant in his role, as the real Henry VIII must have been.
Stephen Costello was new for me. He's not in a category with Rockwell Blake, the great Rossini singer, the other person I have seen sing this role. Costello cranes his neck forward and then raises his chin to compensate. This looks terrible and can't be good for his technique. I suppose I shouldn't say stuff like this. He's cute and has a good voice, though it's more neo-Verdi for my ears than bel canto. Nascent-Verdi. One of those words.
I hear more and more Verdi in Donizetti. This is only apparent in the serious operas which aren't heard that much. The opera was performed as though it were Verdi. Perhaps this is current Italian practice.
You would want this for Netrebko, to see her transformation into an immortal. I was pleased to see she has not matured so much that she forgets to clown for the camera.