Russian Diva Anna Netrebko as Donizetti's Anna Bolena on THIRTEEN's Great Performances at the Met Friday, January 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS

Marco Armiliato conducts the acclaimed new production by David McVicar

NEW YORK, Dec. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, starring soprano Anna Netrebko in her highly anticipated first North American performances of the tour-de-force title role, will be the 2012 season opener of  THIRTEEN's Great Performances at the Met Friday, January 20 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

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The opera, a compelling dramatization of the tragic final days of Anne Boleyn—whose husband Henry VIII spurns her and has her sentenced to death—is directed by David McVicar and conducted by Marco Armiliato. The cast includes Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova as Anna's romantic rival, Giovanna (Jane Seymour); Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as the cruel Enrico (Henry VIII); American tenor Stephen Costello as Anna's first love, Lord Percy; and American mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford as the queen's devoted page Smeton.

Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America's most prolific and respected public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.

The telecast was originally seen live in movie theaters on October 15 as part of the groundbreaking series, The Met: Live in HD, which transmits live performances to more than 1700 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 54 countries around the world.

Generally considered one of Donizetti's finest operas, Anna Bolena is the first in a trilogy of works based on the lives of Tudor-era queens that David McVicar will direct at the Met over the next few seasons (the other two are Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux). McVicar, whose production of Il Trovatore aired on Great Performances at the Met in August, has created a historically detailed setting for the opera, which re-emerged as a musical and dramatic showpiece for extraordinary sopranos when Maria Callas starred in a famous 1957 La Scala revival of the work.

"Donizetti takes the bel canto form and explores every possible dramatic opportunity within it," McVicar says. "The lynchpin of the story is Anna Bolena's inability to provide Henry VIII with the male heir that he craves. And, of course, to be a wife of Henry VIII is to risk as much as you gain."

She made her Met debut in 2002 as Natasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace. Since then, Netrebko has sung nine additional roles with the company, including Donizetti's Norina in Don Pasquale and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. This spring, she will return to the Met as the hedonistic heroine of Massenet's Manon in her second new production of the season, also to be broadcast on Great Performances at the Met.

Gubanova made her Met debut in a 2007 revival of War and Peace and starred as Giulietta opposite Netrebko's Antonia in Bartlett Sher's 2009 new production premiere of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann. At the Met, Abdrazakov has starred in the title role in the company premiere of Verdi's Attila, as Mephistopheles in both Gounod's Faust and Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, and as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Rising young tenor Costello made his Met debut as Arturo, Lucia's doomed husband, in the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor that opened the 2007-08 season. He sang the role of Percy at the Dallas Opera in the 2010-11 season.

The design team for Anna Bolena includes two artists making their Met debuts. Scenic designer Robert Jones collaborated with McVicar on the acclaimed 2005 Glyndebourne production of Handel's Giulio Cesare and has designed numerous plays and musicals, including the Broadway productions of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll and the 2002 revival of Noises Off.  Olivier Award-winning costume designer Jenny Tiramani, a leading authority on historical costuming, has designed for numerous theater productions and spent eight years as Head of Design at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Paule Constable, whose Met credits include the company premiere of Philip Glass's Satyagraha and this season's new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, is the lighting designer for Anna Bolena. Her numerous honors include a 2011 Tony Award for her work on Broadway's War Horse.

This production of Anna Bolena was made possible by a generous gift from Mercedes and Sid R. Bass.

Renee Fleming, who will star in Handel's Rodelinda later this year on Great Performances at the Met, hosts. Gary Halvorson directs the telecast.

Great Performances is funded by Vivian Milstein, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Annaliese Soros. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®.

Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O'Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

About WNET
New York's WNET is America's flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries,  children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online.  Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through SundayArts, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.

About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company's repertory. The Met has made a commitment to presenting modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, with highly theatrical productions featuring the greatest opera stars in the world. The Met's 2011-12 season features seven new productions, including: the world premiere of The Enchanted Island, a Baroque pastiche with an original libretto by Jeremy Sams set to the music of Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others; the Met premiere of Donizetti's Anna Bolena directed by David McVicar; and the final two installments of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung, directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by Maestro Levine. The first complete performances of the new Ring cycle are scheduled for April and May 2012. The season also features new productions of three repertory classics by outstanding directors—Mozart's Don Giovanni by Michael Grandage, Gounod's Faust by Des McAnuff, and Massenet's Manon by Laurent Pelly.

Building on its 81-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, returns for its sixth season in 2011-12. The series of 11 transmissions begins October 15 with Anna Bolena and ends with La Traviata on April 14. The Met recently introduced Met Player, a new subscription service that makes much of its extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online, and in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season, as well; the Met on Rhapsody on-demand service offers audio recordings; and the Met presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season.


The Met has launched several audience development initiatives, including Open House dress rehearsals, a popular rush ticket program, Gallery Met, and an annual Holiday Series presentation for families. For more information, please visit: www.metopera.org.

SOURCE THIRTEEN/WNET New York



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