Canadian Opera Company: Anna Bolena / by Didier Young

A few months ago, I attended my very first opera at the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts and I had such a lovely time that I was looking forward to my next excursion to the gorgeous building. Little did I know that it would happen sooner than later and last week, we headed there once again for the opening night of the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.

The opera is based on the demise of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth. The dramatized story starts during a time of tumult when King Henry VIII was starting to tire of Anne and fell in love with Jane Seymour, one ofthe queen’s ladies-in-waiting. Through a Machiavellian plot, the king managed to accuse the queen of infidelity in an attempt to get their marriage annulled. The rest is history. This fantastic opera relies heavily on its lead soprano and despite its popularity, it was rarely performed during the early 20th century due to the difficulty in finding the talented voice to perform the part. Luckily, the Canadian Opera Company found the perfect piece to their puzzle.

American-Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, the amazing lead of the opera, is one of the most acclaimed performers of her generation. She had a voice unparalleled to any that I’ve heard thus far and an incredible range. As my friend Kirsten mentioned, she was surprised that everyone’s glasses didn’t simply shatter during the performance. However, many minds were blown and yours truly included. Of course, an opera cannot simply rest on the shoulders of its lead and Sondra was lucky enough to be surrounded by a very apt cast that included two Canadian Opera Company debuts.

As per usual, the set was ingeniously versatile in its malleability, allowing it to be transformed within seconds to accommodate a new scene. The gorgeous costumes, created by Ingeborg Bernerth, reflect the opulence of the royal court of Henry VIII during the 16th century. For far too long, opera has been thought to be reserved for an older elitist part of society, but that is not the case. The Canadian Opera Company aims to support diverse price points to make the art of opera more accessible to the general public with tickets going as low as $22.

While I did think that my first time at the opera was quite agreeable, I will have to admit that I had even more fun this time around. Once you learn the whole structure of the show, it is far easier to feel engaged in the storyline. I cannot wait until the next time I set foot at the Canadian Opera Company once again.



This post was made in collaboration with the Canadian Opera Company; all thoughts and opinions are my own.