For his opera Anna Bolena, which premiered in 1830Gaetano Donizetti took a real historical event as a model, the marriage tragedy of King Henry VIII of England: Heinrich divorced his wife in 1533 without the permission of the Pope in order to marry Ann Boleyn, whom he got tired of after three years. In search of a way out of the marriage, the monarch devises a cunning plan to convict his wife of betraying him. The opera begins when Queen Anna has reason to fear that Heinrich has turned his interest to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. Anna's childhood friend, Lord Percy, provides the king with a welcome pretext for the alleged infidelity of his wife. In a court hearing, Anna is found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death. Before being led to the scaffold, she forgives everyone.
Donizetti and his librettist Felice Romani, however, were less concerned with the historical drama and its political conflicts when choosing the subject matter for their opera; they wanted to bring passionate feelings to the stage. With success: Anna Bolena established Donizetti's world fame, the title role is one of the first great tragic soprano roles in the romantic opera. In the premiere, the proud and ambitious queen, who was ennobled by renouncing vengeance, was sung by the legendary Giuditta Pasta. Since then Anna Bolena has been the star role of many well-known sopranos who have to meet the highest singing demands here.
After the bel canto opera Maria Stuarda , which premiered at our house in 2018, Anna Bolena is now the second evening of a trilogy with Donizetti's queen dramas that will be staged in Zurich. As in Maria Stuarda , star soprano Diana Damrau can also be seen in the title role in Anna Bolena . She is making her role debut in this game. At her side, Luca Pisaroni sings King Henry VIII and Karine Deshayes sings rival Jane Seymour. The staging is again in the hands of the American director David Alden. Enrique Mazzola, an expert in the Italian bel canto repertoire, is again at the podium of the Philharmonia Zurich.