Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn)
  • Gaetano Donizetti. Tragedia lirica in two acts. 1830.
  • Libretto by Felice Romani, after works by Ippolito Pindemonte and by Alessandro Pepoli.
  • First performance at the Teatro Carcano, Milan, on 26th December 1830.
Enrico VIII (Henry VIII), King of England bass
Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn), his second wife soprano
Giovanna Seymour (Jane Seymour), her lady-in-waiting soprano
Lord Rochefort, brother of Anna Bolena bass
Lord Riccardo Percy (Lord Richard Percy) tenor
Smeton (Smeaton), the Queen’s page contralto
Hervey, a court official tenor

Anne Boleyn is uneasy at the King’s coolness towards her, while Jane Seymour is equally disturbed by his warmth towards her. Lord Percy returns to court, anxious about his former mistress, Anne Boleyn. Percy’s return is part of the King’s plot to entrap his wife, which he does when Percy is threatening to kill himself for love, observed by Smeaton, who also loves her. In spite of the efforts of Jane Seymour and others, Anne is duly imprisoned, to be executed, together with Percy and Rochefort.

Anna Bolena was the first of Donizetti’s operas to win international acclaim and establish his reputation in Paris and London. The role of Anna Bolena offers a fine opportunity for a soprano, not least in her mad scene in prison, from which she is brought to her senses by the sound of cannons celebrating, prematurely, it would seem, the marriage of King Henry and Jane Seymour. Best known of all excerpts must be the finale, Piangete voi? (Do you weep?).