Anna Bolena

lyric opera
Anna Bolena

In a New Production

Tragedia lirica

Music by Gaetano Donizetti

Libretto by Felica Roman,

After Texts by Ippolito Pindermonte

Conductor Patrick Summers

Stage Director Kevin Newbury

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Stunning production of the famed bel cantro opera is filled with strong voices

lyric opera

Not produced at the Lyric Opera since 1985 when Joan Sutherland soared in Anna Bolena, this new production reaches the heights of the bel canto style (beautiful singing) with matching register and tonal quality of the voice to the emotional content of the words. Led by the powerful and stylistic soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Ann and the smooth mezzo-soprano from Jamie Barton as Anna’s rival for the affections of King Henry, this melodic production of Donizetti’s Tudor-inspired 1830 opera is a major triumph for the Lyric!

Only with the dazzling vocal chops of featured singers, can the Donizetti’s soaring melodies be properly presented, but the Lyric has cast seven singers most capable of the technical prowess together with strong acting skill to make the story of Henry VIII plot to replace Anna Bolena with his consort Jane Seymor. The court intrigue is wonderfully played out with supporting characters like Lord Rochford (bass-baritone Richard Ollarsba), Lord Richard Percy (tenor Bryan Hymel), Lord Hervey (tenor John Irvin), and, of course, King Henry VIII (bass John Relyea).

lyric opera

With Neil Patel’s minimalist set that hints of Tudor opulence, Anna Bolena rightfully emphasizes the vocal prowess to both tell the story and project the intense emotional upswings of Anna’s struggles.  Jessica Jahn’s  period-accurate costumes enrich the look of the opera. But to me, Anna Bolena is the perfect union of a fascinating and varied score by Donizetti sung with style, verve, and technically sophisticated skill that makes this the ultimate bel canto opera. Lovers of wonderful vocal prowess will rejoice and lovers of sensual melodic music will get their fill with Anna Bolena.

Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton each had their moments to soar while tenors John Irvin and Bryan Hymel also exhibited their skills. If you have not witnessed a bel canto opera – then this is the one to experience. You’ll leave the Civic Opera House with soaring voices singing marvelous melodies running through your head. That’s a wonderful experience! Kudos to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for bringing this seldom done opera to Chicago. It was worth the 29 year wait! I’m beginning to appreciate bel canto style as the ultimate operatic expression. And Anna Bolena set the bar quite high with that difficult style.  Get to the Lyric and experience a world class production of Donizett’s Anna Bolena.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: December 6, 2014

For more info checkout the Anna Bolena page at

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker, Chicago, IL, call 312-332-2244,, tickets $25 -$244, Tues, Dec 9 at 7:30, Fri, Dec 12 at 7:30, Mon, Dev 15 at 7:30, Sun, Dec 21 at 2:00, Wed. Jan 7 at 7:30, Sat. Jan 10 at 7:30 and Fri, Jan 16 at 7:30pm, running time is 3 hoursm 30 minutes with intermission, through January 16, 2015