ANNA BOLENA, Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Opens Tonight at the Lyric
Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the Tudor tragedy Anna Bolena by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) in a new production by Kevin Newbury conducted by Patrick Summers. It opens tonight, December 6 with 8 performances through Friday, January 16. Performance dates are Dec. 6, 9, 15, Jan. 7, 10, and 16 at 7:30pm; and Dec. 12 and 21at 2pm.
The first great success of Donizetti's career, Anna Bolena is one of the glories of the bel canto repertoire. The advocacy years ago of sopranos such as Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Leyla Gencer, and Beverly Sills, and Sondra Radvanovsky today, have restored this once-forgotten work to the repertoire. Radvanovsky stars as Anne Boleyn, second wife of England's King Henry VIII (bass-baritone John Relyea). She senses that the king has grown tired of her, not knowing that he is now bestowing his affections on Jane Seymour (mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton). Anne, in turn, is loved by both Richard Percy (tenor Bryan Hymel, debut) and the page Smeton (mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor). Henry's suspicions begin to overwhelm him, leading to the ultimate catastrophe for the queen.
Notes Anthony Freud, Lyric's general director, "Anna Bolena has been seen at Lyric only once previously, in 1985, starring Joan Sutherland. Sondra Radvanovsky is perfect for the title role because it requires real dramatic impact combined with vocal virtuosity."
"Donizetti's Anna Bolena tells the thrilling story of the demise of Anne Boleyn as King Henry VIII tires of her and seeks to marry her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour," notes director Kevin Newbury. "The opera delivers the high emotions and rich characters we have come to expect from bel canto opera - with the added bonus that it features iconic historical figures that the audience recognizes. What really happened behind their closed doors? Our production of Anna Bolena (first seen at Minnesota Opera) is inspired by the design and silhouettes of the period seen through a more modern lens. Even though I direct opera, I am part of the MTV generation, and I hope that our production brings a bit of the visceral excitement and heightened theatricality of a rock concert. And let's face it, the energy, talent, and anticipation that Sondra Radvanovsky brings to the role rivals any rock star I have ever seen!"
Nearly all members of the artistic team for this production will be making Lyric Opera debuts: conductor Patrick Summers, director Kevin Newbury, set designer Neil Patel, costume designer Jessica Jahn, and lighting designer D. M. Wood. The chorus master is Michael Black.
Anna Bolena will be sung in Italian with projected English texts.
The Dec. 6 opening night performance will be broadcast live on 98.7WFMT and streamed on wfmt.com starting at 7:15pm. For those listening to the broadcast, live mobile titles will be available at lyricoperalive.org.
Lyric Opera coproduction generously made possible by The Monument Trust (UK) and the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation. Anna Bolena is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Minnesota Opera.
Operagoers can also enjoy the exhibit DON GIOVANNI: Past to Present before curtain and during intermission of all Lyric performances. Located in the Opera Club Wine Cellar on the lower level of the Civic Opera House, this new exhibit showcases the 60-year history of Mozart's Don Giovanni at Lyric and pays tribute to Lyric's brand-new production. It is free to all ticket holders and will on display through December.
About Lyric - Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago's mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.
Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.
Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become the great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.
Pictured: Sondra Radvanovsky stars in ANNA BOLENA at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo: Cade Martin / Washington National Opera.