ANNA BOLENA 
Gaetano Donizetti
APRIL 28 TO MAY 26, 2018

SYNOPSIS

Opera in a Minute

Henry VIII has tired of his queen, Anne Boleyn, and seeks to replace her with Jane Seymour. Although still attached to her first love Percy, Anne yearns to save her marriage. Jane is consumed with guilt at her involvement. Ultimately Anne is accused of having illicit relationships with three other men (Percy, her brother, and her page) and all four are executed.


ACT I, Scene i

It is three years since Enrico (King Henry VIII) divorced his first wife Catharine of Aragon and married Anna (Anne Boleyn). Courtiers express concern that Enrico’s attention is now directed to someone else. Giovanna (Jane Seymour) enters, trying to suppress her remorse for her secret relationship with Enrico. Anna enters with Smeton, her page, and her attendants, to await Enrico. The queen is despondent and asks Smeton to lift her mood with a song. It upsets the Queen as it reminds her of her first love, Richard Percy, whom she rejected to marry the King. Realizing the King will not visit her tonight, Anna sadly advises Giovanna to never be tempted by a royal throne. Alone, Giovanna expresses her anguish and guilt. Enrico enters and Giovanna tells him she will no longer carry on an illicit relationship. Henry vows to marry her and make her Queen but Giovanna is horrified at what this means for Anna.

Scene ii
A heartbroken Percy is relieved to have been summoned back to England by the King after being exiled, but he is concerned by rumours that Anna is not happy. Her brother Rochefort is not able to reassure him. Enrico, Anna, huntsmen and courtiers enter. Enrico tells Percy it is Anna who has spoken on his behalf. Percy shows such gratitude to the Queen that the couriers become alarmed. Enrico orders continued surveillance on Anna and Percy.

Scene iii
Smeton has stolen a small portrait of Anna, whom he loves. Hearing footsteps, he hides himself. Anna and Rochefort enter. Anna is convinced by her brother to receive Percy, who then enters. She is shocked when Percy once again declares his love. She swears to never meet him again but when Percy draws his sword to kill himself, Smeton emerges from hiding, drawing his own sword to protect the Queen, whom he thinks Percy is attacking. Anna faints, and Enrico enters with Giovanna and courtiers. The stolen portrait falls from Smeton’s clothing. Enrico assumes the men are fighting over Anna and orders all three arrested.


ACT II, Scene i
Anna’s attendants declare their undying loyalty to her, as they are summoned to give testimony to charges against her of treasonous infidelity. Anna is left alone to pray. Giovanna enters to warn Anna and advise her that if she confesses to the charges, the King will divorce her but spare her life. Anna is horrified at the idea and prays for justice against her unknown rival. Distraught, Giovanna finally admits that she is Anna’s rival. Stunned, Anna forgives her and bids her leave.

Scene ii
Smeton has confessed to an illicit relationship with Anna after having been assured that this confession will save the Queen’s life. Enrico leaves the chamber as Anna and Percy are being brought in. Anna begs Enrico to spare her honour even if he takes her life. She swears her innocence as does Percy. Anna claims her only guilt to be her rejection of Percy’s true love for the glory of the throne. Percy is overjoyed at her words. Enrico is enraged and intent on having them both executed. Anna and Percy enter the chamber and Giovanna appears to beg Enrico to be merciful to Anna, an idea that the King scorns. The Lords emerge with Harvey to announce that Anna and Percy are guilty. Both are to be executed (as are Smeton and Rochefort) unless the King gives clemency. All plead with Enrico but he stands firm.

Scene iii
Percy and Rochefort are to be spared, but they refuse clemency when they learn that Anna is still to be executed.

Anna’s ladies grieve for her emotional and mental state. She enters in a delusion, thinking she is celebrating her wedding to the King. She then imagines Percy before her and is crushed by guilt. She longs for the days of her youth, when her love for Percy was new and unsullied. Harvey enters and summons Rochefort, Percy and Smeton. Smeton confesses that he told the court they loved each other because that was his secret hope. Anna falls into a delirium again. She comes to at the sound of crowds outside acclaiming Giovanna as their new queen. Anna collapses with grief, vowing to forgive the new queen and the king, as all four prisoners are lead to their deaths.


Banner: Left: Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena, photo: Cade Martin; A scene from Anna Bolena (Washington Opera, 2012), photo: Scott Suchman.

 

 
   PERFORMANCES

  • 04/28/2018 at 4:30 p.m.
  • 05/03/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/05/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/08/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/11/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/16/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/20/2018 at 2 p.m.
  • 05/24/2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/26/2018 at 7:30 p.m.


Production Sponsor


Nearby Hotels & Restaurants
Make a night of your visit to the opera.
Map & Directions
How to find the Four Seasons Centre.