This is thankfully a tremendous success, magnificent Netrebko tour de force performance with Garanca not far behind.
Stage production was minimalist but effective and emotionally evokotive with dazzling spectacular costume design fully detailed on a beautiful rich blu ray release.........do not even think of DVD since blu ray actually cheaper and far superior in all respects, this gets the very highest recommendation if you have any interest in bel canto singing.
Opening scence with King - D'Arcangelo and Lady Seymour - Garanca shows clandestine love affair that will mean downfall of many lives, already Seymour is wary and wants to end it but cannot pull away from her passionate desires. Garanca is beautiful both phyically and vocally so passionately painting the dreadful apprehension filling her soul, a great actress and skillful singer
On to the royal court proper and entrance of Queen Bolena - Netrebko, she senses danger ahead and summons young page Smeaton to sing a joyful song to put her mind at ease, Smeaton secretly has a crush on the queen and soon the naive page will be duped by king sealling the execution of the queen. Netrebko has just the right touch here and duets with Garanca her most trusted court lady only further emphasize the cruel treachery that will soon unfold. Seymour later again pleads with king to end affair but he says soon she will not have any reason to be concerned and she will soon be new queen
Skip ahead Queens former lover (perhaps even husband hinted at) Percy re-enters her life putting further doubts in queens mind, a scuffle between Percy and Smeaton in queens bed chambers witnessed by king springs the trap and downfall of Anna Bolena, Percy later further infuriates the king declaring his undying love for the queen sealing the fate of all
Now a really great dramatic scence
Lady Seymour overcome with guilt over her part in betraying innocent Anna Bolena, comes to beg pardon before the queens execution. Great singing in this scence Netrebko vocally soars initially in vengeful fury and later with resigned compassion and forgiveness, Garanca beside herself with remorse and begs forgiveness from her former friend.....music beautifully supports the singing on stage, such powerful emotions on display.....magnificent opera here
On to the mad scence
With execution before her the queen becomes delerious, very clever use of child on stage symbolizing Bolena's happy youth before life at royal court, she laments about happy days at home with green fields by quiet river, the crown of the queen had become a crown of thorns and she would trade it all to recapture one day of her carefree youth. The death scence nicely handled with Netrebko on floor partially entangled in red cloth at peace forgiving those who betrayed her, slow fade out lights......Netrebko extremely impressive here with powerful nuanced bel canto technique, a heart breaking rendition that touched all present
Jusy a couple comments about the superb visual quality of blu ray release, every fine detail of the ornate costumes stood out most using shiny shimmering fabrics that glistened differently depending how light hit them, the jewelry and crowns were always fascinating to observe, the staging was minimalist but costumes must have cost a bloody fortune.....some royal court scences had 30+ people all in eloborate expensive costumes
Just to wrap up Percy was not really played to the same level as the stars above, needed to be a bit more heroic and swashbuckling personality to stand up to the king, I would ideally recast that part with someone like Kweicien (doctor from recent Netrebko Don Pasquale) who works well with Netrebko, there is always something to be improved upon in a large production.....overall a great success for me.