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on December 3, 2015
Just what I was looking for.
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on April 9, 2015
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on July 9, 2012


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on February 14, 2012
The Canadian response to this DVD has been all over the place based on the 4 reviews published so far ---- from one star to five. However, it should be pointed out that 3 of these reviews are of the 2-disc DVD and NOT the 1-Disc Blu-Ray version to which this particular site is devoted. It is deceptive of Amazon to continue this deplorable practice despite numerous complaints over the years, and those 3 authors who do not withdraw their inappropriate reviews from this site ( they are already where they should be ----- on the regular DVD site) are simply willing accomplices in Amazon's deception. The only pseudo-valid entry is not a review at all, but two lines of literary applause that give no details of the product or the performance.
It has been pointed out that this is Donizetti's 30th of his 75 operas, written 14 years after his first, from which you might conclude that it is a work of great maturity, but in fact it came two years before his first opera to become established in the modern repertoire: L'Elisir d'Amore. Musically, it is well crafted, and provides some glorious opportunities for all of the principles to show what they can do, in dramatic ensembles of two-to-five as well as in vocally searing solo arias. The writing for the chorus and the orchestra is also quite masterly and never overwhelms the efforts of the main characters, at least in this performance superlatively conducted by Evelino Pido. The plot has been harshly dismissed by one reviewer who challenges its historical veracity. The job of opera is the realm of music, not history. I know enough of this period, thanks to Simon Shama's 'History of Britain', to be able to say that any departure from the real truth is inconsequential. The important reality is that this narrative hangs together with more credibility than the vast majority of dramas in any shape or form being churned out for the stage during that period in musical culture. The characters are well drawn. Their motivation, and the events that unfold, are the logical outcome of who they are and what they seek from life. The themes of forgiveness and redemption balance those of lust, ambition and revenge. How can you ask for more?
The singing is not flawless, but each of the principles is close enough to perfection that I cannot envisage four of that quality being assembled to perform this work in the future --- except the same artists, which is what the Met did for this season's HD cinecaste. Anna Netrebko has put on a good deal of weight since her flirtation with motherhood. Her voice and her features are coarser than they were, but she lacked nothing in dramatic power, although I feel that she tired uncharacteristically in the last scene, where her accuracy with the high notes became a little strained. Elina Garanca has a less sympathetic role as Anna's nemesis, but she delivered a compelling performance, vocally and dramatically, in which the transition from raging evil to guilty compassion was managed with conviction. I daresay we are not supposed to like Henry, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo made out task easy. His voice was frequently as rough as carborundum, but in the context of the plot his vocal characterization was not out of place. As Percy, Francesco Meli was much more than merely satisfactory. His voice does not match that of Rolando Villazon before he underwent his fateful operation, but there are few tenors now around who can do as well, and none I know of who can do better in this type of role.
The sets and stage props were functional, minimalistic, and did nothing for the production, except perhaps allowing the money saved to be spent on the beautifully lavish costumes. Full marks to Brian Large for yet another tour de force with the camera. With wonderful photography and well-nigh perfect recording, this Blu-Ray is a technical joy that brings to our humble abode a neglected opera that has a great deal to offer: not a masterpiece, but totally undeserving the neglect with which it has been greeted up to now.
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on February 12, 2012
It is beautiful scenery. Like a Shakespeare drama. Anna was betrayed by Jane Seymour. They are both in love with the King Enrico VIII. The king is bored with Anna and wants to get rid of her. Along comes Percy. It is for the king the right opportunity to take action against them. Both are charged of adultery and are imprisoned. In the second part of the opera the maid wants to plead for forgiveness. They sing a beautiful duet. In the end Anna falls in a delusion and thinks of the younger Percy she had known in her youth. The aria of Anna is the best part in the opera. She gets executed with Percy, her brother and Smeton. The opera had beautiful actors. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo plays the king, Anna Netrebko plays the queen, and Elina Garanca plays the maid. The brilliant voice in this opera is Elina Garanca. She had this clear high unique voice you know from her recordings. The other both voices are dominated by a dark voice not so often seen by them. Anna Netrebko had some highlights but Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is very disappointing. His voice is dark like he had a cold.
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on December 12, 2011
This opera was Donizetti's first success in 1830 after he had composed already thirty operas. It took the Vienna State Opera until April 2011 to premiere this opera in their house. The wait was worthwhile.

Three world-class stars dazzle the public with their artistry. Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena [Anne de Boleyn] plays the tragic second queen of Henry VIII. Her singing and acting give witness to her reputation. Unforgettable is the final scene -- her young daughter, the future Elizabeth I, arrives on stage -- when Anna, now very confused, dies before the execution.

The queen's rival Giovanna Seymour [Jane Seymour] is Elina Garanca. Her voice and acting are flawless; her stage presence is powerful.

Henry VIII is personified by Ildebrando d'Arcangelo who with his stentorian voice is giving the public a scheming, arrogant, and vicious king.

This trinity of singers with their superb voices and acting, give the performance an unprecedented top place in opera DVDs.

No money was spared on the period costumes for the main actors and the members of the chorus. The stage settings seemed to be the interiors of a windowless palace and the spacious prison cell in the Tower of London. All rooms have vertical doors that move up and slide down at ominous speeds. The stage director and set designer use just a few props: a straight-backed armchair, one divan-bed, one chair for a child. This bleakness and sparsity heighten the drama.

The supplied booklet provides the Synopsis and the sequence of acts and scenes of the opera, and a short essay about the opera's past and its present-day singers.

If you like this opera and are intrigued about Henry and his wives, you should also look at the Saint-Saens opera Henry VIII, also a fine production. In this opera Henry is getting rid of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and replaces her with Anne de Boleyn.
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on December 2, 2011
This is not intended to be a historical reenactment. It's intended to be a gorgeous opera inspired by historical events. And it is! People love the Tudors and not historicaly accurate either, not be a long shot. It's entertainment! Many operas require some leaps of the imagination. This is a beautiful production starring talents singers.
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on November 19, 2011
This is a complete waste of time and money. I reallize that opera and history are, at best, uncomfortable bedfellows but the only connection that this opera has to history are the names of the major combatants. The music is nothing more than over three hours of shouting and screaming. Anna and Elina did their best but with nothing to work with it was a lost cause from the start. Ildebrando was the scruffiest, loudest and most uncouth Henry VIII ever to grace a stage. I wanted to give this production zero stars but the system wouldn't let me. If you want to see Anna Netrebko and Donizetti at their best buy the Met's production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
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