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Donizetti - Anna Bolena
Donizetti - Anna Bolena
Actors: Dimitra Theodossiou, Gianluca Pasolini, Riccardo Zanellato, Sophia Solovij, Fabrizio Carminati
Director: Francesco Esposito
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
UR     2007     3hr 3min


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Actors: Dimitra Theodossiou, Gianluca Pasolini, Riccardo Zanellato, Sophia Solovij, Fabrizio Carminati
Director: Francesco Esposito
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Dynamic
Format: DVD - Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 3hr 3min
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Solid, straightforward performance; not a starry cast, but w
Niel Rishoi | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 05/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The particulars:

Anna: Dimitra Theodossiou
Percy: Gian Luca Pasolini
Enrico: Riccardo Zanellato
Giovanna: Sofia Soliviy
Smeton: Jose Maria Lo Monaco
Rochefort: Mauro Corna
Hervey: Luigi Albani

Orchestra, Chorus, Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano
Conductor: Fabrizio Maria Carminati
Director, costumes: Francesco Esposito
Set designer: Italo Grassi
Stage director: Cristina Zanoletti

Dynamic DVD, 2 discs, 183 minutes

Surprisingly, the news is better than one might expect
here. This is a fairly straightforward but not sensational
performance. All things considered, that is a better than
usual summation in the achievement of a very difficult
opera - which, sad to say, rarely receives even an adequate
performance across the casting board. With Theodossiou
heading the honors, there are still no genuine stars of the
brilliant-international-news-headlines variety; but most
relievedly, no clunker-flops in any role.

When I first saw the set, my heart sank; it consists of a
section of stadium-colisseum grid seats, which overlook the
action of the proceedings. The chorus spends a lot of time
inertly in these seats, and some of the cast hover around
there as well. Go figure. The costumes, however, are
generally of the era, and are sumptuous, rich, and serve
the drama and period. Thankfully, the action is fairly well
done, and after awhile, you forget the sets and are able to
focus on the drama. There is some effective blocking
throughout, and at least the cast is made to interact in a
reasonably natural and dramatically bent fashion.

There are numerous cuts. Anna's first cabaletta is shorn to
one verse, and there are trims throughout, with still a
running time of 3 hours. An uncut ANNA BOLENA with
intermission should be a nearly 4-hour evening. I can
understand some of the cuts; it's a long opera, and not all
of the music is first rate. But then again, ideally trained
singers could probably make you forget this. I long to
hear in a real performance that maggiore section in the
second act Anna/Percy/Enrico trio, where there are some
beautifully etched figurations by Enrico. And some of
Anna's more florid lines in the duet with Giovanna are
excised. Hard to figure if tradition plays a part in these
stubbornly enduring cuts, or if, because of their
difficulty, is out of consideration for the limitations of
the singers. Maybe a bit of both. None of the singers here
are what you would call true stylists of the era, having
neither the ideal flexibility nor the precise flair for
this kind of music, but neither do they disgrace it. It is
managed, sometimes neatly (but only just), but not with the
utmost in savoir faire.

(Dynamic, by the way, put out a few years ago on CD of a
live performance of this opera starring Theodossiou that
was absolutely complete; what a pity that performance was
not captured for release on DVD - and Theodossiou was in
better form)

Riccardo Zanellato (who, as Oroveso, appeared with
Theodossiou in the Dynamic DVD release of NORMA) certainly
looks the part of Enrico; he's a big, burly guy who moves
and acts well, and has the physicality to appear imposing.
The voice itself is soft-grained, no rough edges, but
lacks the incisive thrust, and the ability to "blacken"
certain phrases. You get though, his attraction to
Giovanna, and he takes care to indicate his lust for her.

Giovanna is appealingly portrayed by Sofia Soloviy.
The booklet does not state what her
voice is, but it sounds like a soprano to me. And it is
good to hear a real soprano in the role as intended;
Soliviy has a refreshing youthful brightness instead of the
usual plummy timbre. The "Per questa fiamma" is handled
well, and she and Zanellato manage to put some life into
their not-too distinguished scenes together. Soliviy as an
actress is not always fully responsive to Giovanna's
burning anguish and dilemma, but she is nevertheless, an
attentive, appealing presence.

Gian Luigi Pasolini as Percy is the typical stocky-podgy
tenor of the Gigli-Poggi stature, but I liked his warm,
pliant tone and sensitivity to the music. No blaring, no
bleating, a little narrow on top sometimes, but taking care
to at least modulating the volume. "Vivi tu" is sung with
admirable restraint, with an eloquent phrase here and
there, but did not produce magic. The cabaletta is
delivered with some panache, and Pasolini at least did not
strangle himself. Involved in his performance, not
arrestingly, but seemed to listen to the other characters
and managing to show some strength of being.

The Smeton is listed as one José Maria Lo Monaco -
the tone is a bit hooty, opaque, and the two solos nothing
to write home about.

Dimitra Theodossiou in the title role gives a star's
performance. She is at once an artist of stature, and, all
told, is an immensely appealing presence. Theo looks
splendid, royal, dignified and commanding in her costumes;
she at times looks uncannily like the young Callas in the
midst of The Big Weight loss. Theo has marvelous large
eyes, a wide, expressive face, and dark, sultry looks, all
used to great effect - she looks like a classical actress
of the stage. Her Anna is often deeply sympathetic, is
vividly alive to all the facets of the character's persona
and situation. Theo's phrasing is in many instances
wonderfully sensitive, thoughtful, and at a few notable
points, positively electrifying. The voice's natural
bearing has some substance, and she works very
conscientiously toward a sense of the music's style. There
is no question that Theodossiou is far more imaginative,
lively, and memorable than Sutherland, who is the Anna on
the only other available commercial video release (On VAI

However, Theo must yield completely to Sutherland in terms
of ease of vocal production and technique, Callas in both
technique and sublimity of utterance.

I fear Theo's voice may be beginning to come apart at the
seams. Her vocal state has deteriorated since her
audio-only commercial release of Anna. I noticed a few
reasons as to possibly why. Theo seems to manufacture her
tone quite frequently in the front part of her jaw, where
she lets it quiver to produce a vibrato that sounds pushed
instead of floated at the ends of phrases; other times her
jaw looks stiff from pushing the tone resolutely instead of
sailing it out. She can sing softly at times, but either a
spin or a float can go awry when she pushes. The core, or
the mittelage, has narrowed, so that the former cushiness
is dwindling. A lot of the top notes are throttled with all
her might. Sometimes the chest voice will ring out
strongly, but other times (as in her Norma) it will be
opaque and weak, with distorted vowels. Theo is plainly in
pursuit of the Callas model (though I hear she has borrowed
some of Gruberova's points of phrasing, especially in some
of the unwritten upward extensions).

(And, BTW - there are two distinct Anna interpretations, if
I could use two portrayals from the movie "Anne of the
Thousand Days" - there is the Genevieve Bujold Anne, the
young, girlish bride of the King. Then there is Irene
Papas' deeply tragic Catherine of Aragon, who seems more
like a real Queen. Callas's Anna is more like Irene Papas'
Catherine of Aragon. Sills, Gruberova, Devia, et al is the
Bujold Anna. Theodossiou is clearly after the Papas type
of Anna. But it may be safe to say that Callas is perhaps
the only Anna to reach the levels of, and match
descriptions of Pasta's portrayal. Gencer came somewhat
within distance of the Callas model, but my personal
opinion is that it was idiosyncratic.)

Alas, though, once one has heard Callas's live 1957 Scala
broadcast, and the final scene from her "Mad Scenes"
recital, one cannot consider Theo - for all her commitment
and uniqueness - to be in her predecessor's league. For
one thing, Callas had a bewitching timbre and singularity
of expression that was tailor-made for Anna. The magical
suspension of phrases, the natural, queenly sovereignty of
the line, the sheer identification and ability to produce
the classic Donizetti style - is not reproducable. And
Callas, even in her worst state of voice, could still
produce the nimble, springy pearls of passagework, whereas
Theo sounds clumsy, stiff and inadequately schooled.

Individual notes on Theo's performance. "Come, innocente
giovane" is taken very slowly, quietly, nicely melancholic.
The cabaletta, shorn to one verse, is labored, the highest
tones shrieky.

Theo is at her very best in the duet with Percy, leading
into the first act finale. Her desperation is explicit,
and the "Giudici, ad Anna? Giudici!" is deeply outraged;
her launch into the cabaletta "Ah! segnata e la mia sorte"
is hair raising, flashing with scorn, with full-throttle
singing, and wait till you hear her prolonged, whoppingly
loud high D. It finishes off very nearly a yelp, but her
seizing attack is terribly exciting nonetheless. She's
throwing full caution to the wind, and it's a great moment
of abandon.

Duet with Giovanna fine, nothing like Callas and Simionato
though (yes comparisons are odious, but that was one of the
great nights in Scala's history that was documented)

The Mad Scene. Very touching actually, the recit quite
expressive. Of "Al dolce guidami" Theo knows what to do
with it, the pathetic accents are there, and her
application is as ideal as the piece calls for, but the
breath control (phrases get broken up) and the requisite
needed float is regrettably lacking. She aims for the
trills, which is good, but they're vague flutters. The
"Cielo a'miei lunghi spasimi" is beautiful, poignant and
meditative. "Manca solo a compire il delitto" short on
power. "Coppia iniqua" sung with tremendous zest and punch,
the rising trills again not very clear, the passagework
clumsily executed. Theo drops a few words near the end -
or seems to forget and fumble? - and belts out a very
loud, lunged E flat - and this really does end in a yelp.
It takes you by surprise, it almost seems thrown in.

Theodossiou by her indefatigable energy, desire to succeed,
and that unobtainable commodity called charisma, makes this
performance work on its own terms. You'll have to decide
whether her valiant efforts makes up for some shortfalls of
vocal results. I would not consider it any kind of
landmark achievement but any means, but it's an interesting
document - and one of the ways to watch a performance of
the opera if you've never seen it."
Fabulous singing by entire cast!
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 10/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I loved this opera! The entire cast was fabulous, including the chorus. Dimitra Theodossiou's performance as Anna Bolena was inspired; her range of singing, straight from heaven or the depths of hell. Sofia Soloviy's voice was equally beautiful and seemed effortless. The tenor Gianluca Pasolini as Percy sang with great passion and Riccardo Zanellato as Enrico was a sumptuous villain. The ensemble singing was glorious!

I thought the beautiful music and excellent singing carried the production past any deficit of staging or theatrics: The set was rather stark with riser seats in the background where members of the court sat watching, witnessing events during the entire opera. But, what better way to make the point that nothing at court is secret; that everyone knows what is happening?

I really enjoyed this production and recommend it without reservation.

Ali Hassan AYACHE | São Paulo, Brasil. | 06/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Gaetano Donizetti was a composer at full speed. Operas flowed one after the other, contained in your resume more than 70. The style has always remained, but when it came Belcanto, Donizetti dominated, was unbeatable. Anne Boleyn is one of the three operas he made about the Tudor queens. His last performance was given in 1881 in Livorno. Was forgotten, languishing in the archives until you get to a Greek or American talent, never to know her nationality. Maria Callas Anna Bolena unearths, with Giulietta Simionatto and direction of Luchino Visconti makes a memorable show at Scala in 1957. After her, the great dramatic sopranos realized the potential of opera, who does not want to be cheered by the final scene. Leyla Gencer, Beverly Sills, Renata Scotto, Joan Sutherland and Dimitra Theodossiou interpreted the complex character, over the decades.
There are two commercial versions available on video. The earliest was recorded in Canada in 1984 with Joan Sutherland, James Morris and Judith Forst. Baton of Richard Bonynge and Ben Heppner in early career, playing the role of Hervey.
Portrait of its time, this assembly is tradition squared. Costumes loaded, little or no scenic interpretation. Everyone Paradita, beautiful singing. Everything in its place, the light is a constant shadow. The direction is limited to tell a story, transcribes what is in the libretto faithfully and nothing more. The highlights for the voices, all the soloists are of feedback. Sutherland has great agility of a coloratura soprano, her timbre like, though his diction is weak. Baritone James Moris are legitimate, not those that currently exist, has those serious and bulky caracteríticos full of singers of the past. Judith has Fosrt voice thick, enormous. The regency of my husband (of Sutherland) Boninger is classic, no innovations. The analog picture and sound are a little lacking for supporters of Blu-ray.
Anna Boleyn of Bergamo, recording made in 2006, is the opposite of Canada. His direction is impeccable, not only transcribes the lyrics, but makes a theatrical release. Provokes the viewer calls for reflection. The scenario stands possess the background, always present with members of the choir. The director's reading is clear, the life of the royals is public, no private space. The soloists do not have the same level voice of the Canadian version is in hand, they act, give realism to persongens. The light is part of the scenery, the costumes are lightweight and digital recording leaves everything in line.
Hear snakes and lizards Dimitra Theodossiou, but the soprano is based on Belcanto. Your voice can agility in difficult coloraturas, turns power and technique, but gets worn out in the end. The other soloists are guaranteed, all sing and act, that's modern opera.
Both versions show the evolution of opera. From traditional to modern reading assembly. Basic scenario of a vision, a way of telling the story, a provocation. All aspects related to production have evolved. Settings, costumes, lighting, color, movement choir, recording, direction of scenes and so on. Won the opera, which advanced in time, seeking to renew its modernized public. Recordings of the century are thought to video. But not everything is perfect, the voices of the past were higher than the present.


Gaetano Donizetti era um compositor a toda velocidade. Óperas fluiam uma atrás da outra: constam em seu currículo mais de 70. O estílo sempre se mantinha, mas, quando o assunto era belcanto, Donizetti dominava, era imbatível. Anna Bolena é uma das três óperas que ele fez sobre as rainhas Tudor. Sua última apresentação se dera em 1881, em Livorno. Ficou esquecida, mofando nos arquivos, até que aparece uma grega ou americana talentosa, nunca sei a nacionalidade dela. Maria Callas desenterra Anna Bolena, juntamente com Giulietta Simionatto e a direção de Luchino Visconti faz um espetáculo memorável no Scala, em 1957. Depois dela, os grandes sopranos perceberam o potencial dramático da ópera, quem não quer ser aplaudido pela cena final. Leyla Gencer, Beverly Sills, Renata Scotto, Joan Sutherland e Dimitra Theodossiou interpretaram a complexa personagem, no decorrer das décadas.
Existem duas versões comerciais disponíveis em vídeo. A mais antiga foi gravada no Canadá, em 1984, com Joan Sutherland, James Morris e Judith Forst. Regência de Richard Bonynge e Ben Heppner em início de carreira, fazendo o papel de Hervey.
Retrato de sua época, essa montagem é tradição ao quadrado. Figurinos carregados, pouca ou quase nenhuma interpretação cênica. Todo mundo paradinho, cantando bonito. Tudo no seu devido lugar, a luz é uma penumbra constante. A direção se limita a contar uma história, transcreve o que está no libreto com fidelidade e nada mais. O destaque fica para as vozes, todos os solistas são de gabarito. Sutherland tem agilidade de um grande soprano coloratura, seu timbre agrada, entretanto sua dicção deixa a desejar. James Moris é barítono legítimo, não desses que existem atualmente, tem aqueles graves cheios e volumosos caracteríticos dos cantores do passado. Judith Fosrt tem voz densa, enorme. A regência do maridão (da Sutherland) Boninge é clássica, sem inovações. A imagem e o som analógicos deixam a desejar aos adeptos do blu-ray.
A Anna Bolena de Bergamo, gravação realizada em 2006, é o oposto da canadense. Sua direção é impecável, não transcreve apenas o libreto e sim faz uma versão teatral. Provoca o espectador, chama à reflexão. O cenário possuí arquibancadas ao fundo, sempre presentes com membros do coro. A leitura do diretor é clara, a vida dos membros da realeza é pública, não existe espaço privado. Os solistas não têm o mesmo nível vocal da versão canadense: em contrapartida, atuam, dão realismo aos persongens. A luz faz parte do cenário, os figurinos são leves e a gravação digital deixa tudo nos conformes.
Ouvi cobras e lagartos de Dimitra Theodossiou, mas o soprano se sustenta no belcanto. Sua voz consegue a agilidade nas difíceis coloraturas, despeja potência e técnica, mas chega desgastada no final. Os demais solistas se garantem, todos cantam e atuam , isso é ópera moderna.
As duas versões mostram a evolução da ópera. De montagem tradicional a leitura moderna. De encenação básica a uma visão, uma forma de contar a história, uma provocação. Todos os aspectos referentes a produção evoluíram. Cenários, figurinos, luz, cores, movimentação de coro, gravação, direção de cenas e etc. Ganhou a ópera, que avançou no tempo, se modernizou buscando renovar seu público. Gravações do século XXI são pensadas para o vídeo. Mas nem tudo é perfeito, as vozes de outrora eram superiores às atuais."
Where are the great Donizetti interpreters?
Young American | 06/07/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The late Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer was famous for her Donizetti roles, though she sang everything in the Italian repertoire, and then some. In an interview conducted not long before she died, Madame Gencer said Donizetti had never received his full value, that he was a very great composer of the 19th century who needed great interpreters. Leyla Gencer was a great interpreter of Donizetti heroines and of Anna Bolena in particular, as can be heard by listening to her performance in a radio braodcast of the opera conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni. It has reissued by Allegro Records.

I mention Gencer's remarks to point out a) that not only Callas and Sutherland could sing this music and b) to beg the larger question of how a soprano can interpret music if she cannot master its technical demands or style. Frankly, Donizetti's bones would turn over in their crypt in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo if he heard Theodossiou's labored singing, her lack of a legato line or trill, her lunging at notes, and her total lack of vocal beauty or queenly nobility. Her attempt at an E-flat at the end startled the hell out of me, but at least that meant she was finished. I can't really add to the first reviewer's highly knowledgeable analysis of Theodossiou's vocal problems except to wonder why he thinks this DVD is wothwhile.

I thought the only performer who had any sense of Donizetti's and Romani's intentions was the tenor Gianluca Pasolini. He sang Percy's music with focus and true elegaic feeling, including an aria that is usually cut. And as for the staging: can't directors think of anything more imaginative way of handling the chorus than putting them in metal risers? They look like they're sitting in bleachers waiting for the ballgame to begin! Please do yourself---and Donizetti--- a favor and buy the recordings with Callas or Gencer or the DVD with Sutherland with a better supporting cast and a fine traditional production by Lofti Mansouri.