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date: 21 October 2019

Anna Bolena (‘Anne Boleyn’)locked

  • William Ashbrook

Extract

(‘Anne Boleyn’)

Tragedia lirica in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Felice Romani after Ippolito Pindemonte’s Enrico VIII ossia Anna Bolena and Alessandro Pepoli’s Anna Bolena; Milan, Teatro Carcano, 26 December 1830.

This was Donizetti’s first great international success, giving him his initial exposure to Paris and London audiences. Pasta (Anne) and Rubini (Percy) sang in the première. Immensely popular for almost half a century, it re-entered the modern repertory following a triumphant revival at La Scala with Callas in 1957. Since then the work has proved a favourite vehicle for such bel canto specialists as Sutherland, Sills and Caballé.

It was long a commonplace of criticism that with Anna Bolena Donizetti at a single stroke emerged from the shadow of Rossini into a more personal style, yet one influenced by Bellini. Now, however, thanks to our greater familiarity with the operas that precede Anna in the Donizetti canon, this fallacious notion has been superseded by our understanding that it is, rather, a logical extension of directions that Donizetti had already explored. The part of the score that has been regarded as most ‘Bellinian’, Anne’s Larghetto in the final scene, has on closer acquaintance turned out to be a reworking of an aria from Donizetti’s first performed opera, ...

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