Where would we be without the Tudors? Certainly our shelves, stages and screens would seem empty without their era which ran from 1485 when Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.
Opera has made good use of them, particularly Donizetti with his three ‘Tudor Queens’ operas: Elizabeth I in Maria Sturda and Roberto Deveraux and his opera about her mother, Anna Bolena which is coming to the Sydney Opera House (July 2-26).
Premiered in Milan in 1830, Anna Bolena was an immediate hit. At that time, Anne Boleyn was seen as a romantic victim who, although strong-willed, was destroyed by her brutal husband just as he had sought to destroy the Catholic church.
By the end of the 19th century, its popularity had faded. Scarcely performed in the first half of the 20th century it emerged from obscurity at La Scala in 1957 sung by Maria Callas in a lavish production by Visconti. Beverly Sills made Anna one of the signature roles of her career. Joan Sutherland confirmed the popularity of Anna Bolena in London and North America.
Her recording still sets the standard.
The cast in Sydney in July is a strong one: Albanian-born soprano Ermonela Jaho will sing Anna, a role that has brought her international acclaim.
Carmen Topciu will sing Jane Seymour and Teddy Tahu Rhodes will be Henry VIII, conducted by Renato Palumbo. Another big year for the Tudors.
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