Gaetano Donizetti: Anna Bolena

Donizetti Critical Edition

Edited by Paolo Fabbri (2017)

Two-volume set: score + critical commentary pp. I-LVIII, 1-442 / 443-944
NR 140357
Piano vocal score available
CP 140360

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena premiered at Milano’s Teatro Carcano on December 26, 1830, and is considered the composer’s first major success in serious opera, which brought him to the attention of all Europe. In terms of production, in Italy he was an anomaly, in that he remained actively involved in the evolution of his works and the performances of them, and went on making modifications to those works. Written expressly for the interpretative and vocal talents of great singers like Giuditta Pasta and Giovan Battista Rubini, the historically-based “lyrical tragedy” by librettist Felice Romani is a classic of Lombard Romanticism, alongside historical novels like Manzoni’s I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), which appeared in 1827, and artists the likes of painter Francesco Hayez, who moved to Milano in 1822. This was noted by Giuseppe Mazzini in 1836.

Anna Bolena marks Donizetti’s official entry among the elite of important opera composers of the early nineteenth century. Generally considered the watershed work of his artistic maturity, it represents the culmination of Donizetti’s gradual development toward a distinct personal style and new, extraordinary means of dramatic expression.

The critical edition Anna Bolena takes its cue from the manuscript (housed in the Ricordi Archives, the libretto for the premiere, printed editions of voice and piano parts from the period, and additional scores handwritten by Donizetti. Besides doing away with cumbersome instrumentation, and uncovering the original articulations and dynamics, instrumentational and even melody-harmony solutions, here we see for the first time all of Donizetti’s music, and in particular those sections crossed out or replaced either immediately before or after the first performances. There is also a detailed reconstruction of the birth of Anna Bolena, with a description of sources and critical comment.