Anna Bolena

Sally-Anne Russell as Jane Seymour and Elena Xanthoudakis as Anne Boleyn - photo by Jodie HutchinsonFollowing the sold out triumph of Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) last year, Melbourne Opera continues the great Donizetti trilogy bringing the Bel Canto masterpiece Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) to The Athenaeum for the first time this November.

Once again, Melbourne Opera is thrilled to be working with Music Director of the former Victoria State Opera Richard Divall, who has prepared a new edition and translation for this season. Melbourne Opera Director Greg Hocking and Head of Music Raymond Lawrence will share the conducting of the distinguished cast and highly praised Melbourne Opera chorus and orchestra.

After bringing opera to The Regent Theatre for the very first time with the critically acclaimed production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Melbourne Opera are once again working with accomplished director Suzanne Chaundy for their third new production for 2016.

“This is a thrilling drama full of vocal fireworks, romance, passion and tragedy. We are blessed with a cast of outstanding singing actors essential to really serve the drama of Donizetti,” said Suzanne. “Having begun my directing life as a theatre director, I really appreciate the excellent dramatic structure of these Bel Canto works.”

Melbourne Opera has once again assembled an illustrious cast of international and local singers for the Australian professional premiere of this beautiful 19th Century opera, the first of Donizetti’s works to achieve wide success.

International soprano Elena Xanthoudakis returns from a triumphant tour of the United Kingdom to star in the demanding title role, following outstanding reviews of her powerful performance in Melbourne Opera’s Mary Stuart last year. With over fifty operatic roles in her repertoire, performed in over fifteen countries, one of Australia’s finest mezzo-sopranos Sally-Anne Russell plays the role of the King’s guilt-ridden new mistress Jane Seymour.

Melbourne Opera will stage this gripping historical drama that tells the tale of love and betrayal, deception and desperation set during the most tumultuous period of the British monarchy. Whilst history often portrays Anne Boleyn as a villain, Donizetti’s work casts a sympathetic eye over the Queen’s famous downfall at the hands of her husband, Henry VIII of England.

Other cast includes international bass Eddie Muliaumaseali’I in the commanding role of Henry VIII, following praised performances as Hermann in Tannhäuser and Osmin in The Abduction from the Seraglio. Fresh from his recent tour of Italy and his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for Opera di Firenze, Australian-born tenor and 2013 Orvieto Opera Competition winner Boyd Owen will portray Anne’s former lover Richard Percy, Earl of Northumberland, a role which includes the touchstone tenor aria, Vivi tu.

Opera Australia alumni and mezzo-soprano Dimity Shepherd will take on the trouser role of Mark Smeaton who is secretly in love with the Queen and Phillip Calcagno will play Anne’s brother Lord Rochefort.

The celebrated all female creative team from Mary Stuart will return for Anna Bolena. Large-scale set design from Christina Logan-Bell will see a contemporary take on the Tudor castles of the 16th Century using architectural influences from Hampton Court.

Gold undertones will represent the power and wealth of the English Monarchy and the black will give heaviness to the design as we see the ultimate demise of Anne Boleyn, with the moody atmosphere further realised by lighting designer Lucy Birkinshaw. Period costumes will further exemplify the grandeur and excess of the Tudor period.

Anna Bolena is the second exploration of Donizetti’s Tudor operas with Melbourne Opera staging a third Australian premiere when it presents Roberto Devereux in 2017.

Anna Bolena
The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 2, 5 and 9 November 2016

Robert Blackwood Hall, 49 Scenic Boulevard, Monash University, Clayton
Performance: 12 November 2016

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Sally-Anne Russell as Jane Seymour and Elena Xanthoudakis as Anne Boleyn – photo by Jodie Hutchinson