REVIEW: Anna Bolena


I had the pleasure of attending the final dress rehearsal for the Minnesota Opera’s Anna Bolena, which is based on the famous story of Anne Bolelyn (King Henry VIII’s second wife).

The walls are closing in on Anne Boleyn as she fails to produce a male heir. Bursting with vocal pyrotechnics, Donizetti’s legendary masterpiece is a gripping tale of intrigue and betrayal. This sumptuous production marks the not-to-be-missed conclusion of Minnesota Opera’s Tudor trilogy.

I am a big fan of the Showtime series, The Tudors, so I was very excited to see this opera.  The drama of this story is so captivating that it translated quite well to an operatic production. Anna Bolena has everything an opera needs – love, deception, betrayal, murder and there’s even some torture and sexiness to take it up a notch.   I found that the actors were more expressive and appeared to have more fun with their roles as compared to previous operas that I have seen.  Henry/Enrico, performed by Kyle Ketelsen, was a particularly fantastic character.  He was captivating, humorous, delightfully evil and his vocals were stellar.   It was difficult to gauge the vocals of lead singer, Keri Alkema because she was “marking” during the performance–singing at half volume in order to preserve her voice for the opening–but what we could hear was gorgeous and she appeared to embody the role’s mixture of shame and defiance with aplomb.

The story is greatly enhanced by the stage design.  Rooms and locations are transformed by giant pieces that come down from the larger than life ceiling.  If you’ve ever been to the Tower of London, you’ll recognize the crosses in the walls used during the later scenes.  Drama is added with bold colors that move and transform as a scene develops.  The stage is truly impressive and no description could do it justice.

As always, even if you don’t know the story or Italian, you will be able to follow along just fine. The MN Opera displays English translations above the stage and has a marvelous synopsis and background posted on its website. If you love palace intrigue, treat your ears to this terrific performance.

November 10, 13, 15, 17 and 18, 2012
The Ordway
St. Paul
Tickets start at $20 for the Nov. 13th performance with coupon code blog20.