Side note: One of these days, I really need to take a course on opera history or music history or something. I don't actually know anything about it, save that I enjoy it. For example, this opera was introduced as a 'masterpiece of the bel canto style' and I really have no idea what the 'bel canto' style encapsulates!
Things that I like about watching opera in the movie theatre:
- You can eat while you watch the show. (Interestingly, though, very few people seem to do so. I guess the need to hear the music clearly creates a social pressure to not slurp your soda and crunch your popcorn.)
- Supplementary materials are provided. At Anna Bolena, Renee Fleming played emcee and interviewed Anna Netrebko, the actress playing the title role before the opera began, and then during the intermission (remember, these are broadcast live performancs, although tonight I was watch the encore showing) she interviewed the costume designer, some of the secondary characters, and the conductor. It provided background information that normally I'd never get at an opera.
- The movie camera lets me get a lost closer to the actors that I ever could from the cheap seats, so you can really appreciate that the singers are acting, not just pretty voices.
The opera itself was interesting. It focuses on the final days of Anne Boleyn's reign, as Henry VIII's attentions shift away from her onto future wife #3, Jane Seymour. When a former love Hervey returns to London, Anne is arrested and falsely accused of betraying the king. After languishing in madness in her prison cell, she sings a very very long song and finally, as news of Henry's wedding to Jane Seymour reaches her, heads to the execution block. Obviously, the story plays fast and loose with Tudor history, but then history isn't the point. It's all about drama and style, and the opera delivered on both. But as a member of the impatient generation, it's sometimes a little hard to sit through nearly four hours of singing, singing, singing.
But I love the Tudors, and any opera that has women swishing around in long gowns and French hoods is good entertainment to me!
Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour