Anna Bolena @ The Mayflower, Southampton
Say hello to our first ever guest reviewer! We were fascinated by Welsh National Opera’s Tudor season so, a scant night after we checked out Tosca Emma van Kooperen headed to The Mayflower to check out Anna Bolena for us. You can find Emma on twitter @eviekaye and click the link below to read her review.
I will readily admit that, as a historian, I was a little apprehensive of seeing Anna Bolena. Would my knowing so much of period affect my enjoyment? Would I find myself questioning the piece? The answer is, surprisingly, no.
One of the three oft-overlooked “Tudor Queen” operas by Donizetti performed by Welsh National Opera Anna Bolena is a Queen whose star is fading. In Donizetti’s reimagining, knowing her King is falling in love with another, she is all too aware her time as Queen is coming to an end.
Linda Richardson gives a stunning performance as Anna Bolena, her clarity of delivery and emotional depth evoke a feeling of affection towards Anne, slowing building to a compelling and impassioned madness in the final scene. Katharine Goeldner conveys Giovanna Seymour’s (Jane Seymour)conflict with ease and grace. Their duet in Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio is the stand out moment of the piece.
As Lord Percy Robert McPherson was by far the strongest actor on the stage and coped very well with the strenuous vocal demands of the role. During the scene in Anne’s chambers
Strong support also came from Alastair Miles’ malevolent portrayal of Enrico (Henry VIII) and Faith Sherman’s naïve Smeaton.
The one disappointment is however the staging and costume. The dark, virtually featureless, set reminded me of my old school hall lined with benches, not a good first impression. The likewise dark and featureless costuming was not flattering at all to the female cast, knee length skirts and leather-effect bodices are a hard ensemble to pull off, the men did have it better in black overcoats. Whilst I did like the fact they were not in full Tudor style regalia, Alessandro Talevi and Madeline Boyd were wide of the mark in their design.
Fine performances and an excellent job by Andrew Greenwood in leading the orchestra though an, at times, challenging score made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.