Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy in Wales…

Welsh National Opera Presents:


The Tudors Trilogy

Gaetano Donizetti

New Production

The Tudors is a landmark event. It is the first time Donizetti’s ‘Three Queens’ operas will have been performed together in Britain. Each opera is a complete experience and can be enjoyed on its own. By experiencing all three on consecutive evenings you have an opportunity to lose yourself in potent drama and beautiful music. 

The Tudors will be performed by our world-class Chorus and Orchestra joined by an exceptional cast on a single epic set in costumes which evoke the period with a modern twist. Book for more than one opera and you can make great savings. Please note that bookings of two operas or more cannot be booked online. Call your local venue or book by post or in person. 

Details of all performances of The Tudors Trilogy at each venue are below. 

Birmingham Hippodrome

Anna Bolena 13 November 7pm
Maria Stuarda 14 November 7.15pm
Roberto Devereux 15 November 7.15pm

Venue Cymru, Llandudno

Anna Bolena 20 November 7pm
Maria Stuarda 21 November 7.15pm
Roberto Devereux 22 November 7.15pm

The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Anna Bolena 27 November 7pm
Maria Stuarda 28 November 7.15pm
Roberto Devereux 29 November 7.15pm


annabolena_1140_review_0Anna Bolena

Anne is the original Boleyn girl. Few figures in British history have dominated the imaginations of writers, painters and film directors quite like her. Donizetti’s re-imagining of Anne’s final days in the scheming court of Henry VIII is a touching one. It is a portrait of an innocent stranded in a nest of vipers. You will find it hard not to care deeply for her.

Director Alessandro Talevi’s production will highlight personalities over pageantry, and what personalities! Anna Bolena is an exhilarating jewel of bel canto opera filled with poignant arias and moving duets waiting to be discovered by you.

Supported by a lead gift from the Peter Moores Foundation’s Swansong Project and WNO Bel Canto Syndicate.


Courtiers discuss the state of royal affairs: Queen Anne’s star is sinking since King Henry VIII has fallen in love with another woman. The Queen admits to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, that she is troubled, and remembers the happiness of her first love.

Jane, who is in fact the King’s new lover, is conscience-stricken but realizes that it is too late to turn back when the King declares his love for her, promising marriage and glory.

Anne’s brother, Lord Rocheford, is surprised to meet Lord Percy, the queen’s former lover. Percy has been called back from exile by the King, who now arrives with a hunting party, followed by Anne and her women. The King has devised Percy’s return as a trap for his wife and orders an officer to spy on the couple.

The page Smeaton, who is in love with the Queen, is on his way to her apartments to return a miniature portrait of her that he had stolen. He hides when Anne appears with Rocheford, who persuades his sister to admit Percy, who is still in love with her. Anne admits that the King no longer loves her but says that she remains faithful. The King bursts in on them and Anne, Percy and Smeaton are arrested.

Anne has been imprisoned and Jane attempts to persuade her to confess her love for Percy, thereby allowing the King to remarry. Anne refuses, and curses the woman who will be her successor. Jane admits that she will be Anne’s successor.

Smeaton has falsely testified to being the Queen’s lover, believing that his confession would save Anne’s life. Anne and Percy are brought before the council. Percy claims that he and Anne are married in the eyes of heaven. Jane pleads with the King to spare Anne’s life but is dismissed. The council’s verdict is announced: the royal marriage is dissolved and Anne must be executed, along with her accomplices.

Anne feverishly imagines that it is her wedding day and remembers her girlhood love for Percy. Her fellow prisoners are brought in and, when the sounds of celebration are heard, Anne realises that the King’s new marriage is inevitable and curses him and his new wife before being led away for execution.

Creative team
Conductor Daniele Rustioni (until 6 Nov)
Andrew Greenwood (from 13 Nov)
Director Alessandro Talevi
Designer Madeleine Boyd
Lighting Designer Matthew Haskins
Movement Maxine Braham

Cast includes
Anne Boleyn Serena Farnocchia (until 23 Oct)
Linda Richardson (from 6 Nov)
Henry VIII Alastair Miles
Jane Seymour Katharine Goeldner
Lord Percy Robert McPherson
Smeaton Faith Sherman
Lord Rocheford Daniel Grice
Lord Hervey Robyn Lyn Evans

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ms_webgallery6Maria Stuarda

What would have happened had Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots met face to face? A thrilling imagining of this showdown is at the heart of Maria Stuarda. Donizetti’s riveting opera transports you to a Britain at war with itself and overcome by uncertainty and strife.

Rudolf Frey’s production shines a light on the striking parallels between the two heroines: the imprisoned Mary and Queen Elizabeth; a woman shackled by the demands of office.

Supported by a lead gift from the Peter Moores Foundation’s Swansong Project. Supported by WNO Friends and WNO Idloes Owen Society and WNO Bel Canto Syndicate.

The Court awaits the arrival of Queen Elizabeth, who is expected to announce her marriage to the Duke of Anjou. Elizabeth reveals that she is still undecided as whether to unite the thrones of England and France by this marriage but assures her Court that she will only act for the good of the people. Aside, she confesses her secret love for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Talbot and the courtiers then plead for mercy towards Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, imprisoned at Fotheringhay, but Elizabeth is unwilling to relent, a course in which she is encouraged by Sir William Cecil.

Leicester arrives and is ordered by Elizabeth to take her ring to the French envoy as a token of her provisional acceptance of the marriage proposal. Deeply hurt by his cool reaction to this news, the Queen departs. Talbot tells Leicester of a meeting with Mary and gives him a portrait of her, along with a letter begging for his help. Leicester vows to secure Mary’s freedom. When Elizabeth returns she demands to see the letter he is holding. Despite her anger at Mary’s aspirations to the English crown and her intense jealousy of Leicester’s affections, she reluctantly agrees to visit her.

Mary and her companion, Hannah, recollect their early life in France. Hearing the sounds of the Royal Hunt, Mary realizes that Elizabeth is in the vicinity. Leicester arrives and explains that the Hunt is only a pretext for Elizabeth to visit Mary and persuades her to be submissive if she hopes for mercy. As the two women meet for the first time, each feels instant hostility towards the other. Mary humbles herself but Elizabeth responds by accusing her of treachery, murder and debauchery. Mary, taunted beyond endurance, denounces Elizabeth as the bastard daughter of Anne Boleyn.

Cecil urges Elizabeth to sign the order for Mary’s execution, following her complicity in the Babington plot to assassinate the Queen, but Elizabeth is still undecided; she cannot bring herself to condemn an annointed monarch. Cecil eventually succeeds in persuading Elizabeth to sign the warrant. When Leicester learns that Mary has been condemned to death he makes a final plea for her life, upbraiding Elizabeth for her cruelty when she refuses to yield. He is then detailed by the Queen to witness Mary’s execution.

Mary is visited by Talbot and Cecil; the latter hands her the death sentence and leaves her alone with Talbot. He tells her of Elizabeth’s decision that Leicester is to witness her execution. Mary becomes distraught and imagines that she sees the ghosts of her former husband and lover, Darnley and Rizzio. Talbot urges her to place her trust in heaven and to prepare to face her death with resignation.

A waiting crowd watches the preparations for Mary’s execution. Mary bids them farewell and they join her in a final prayer for heavenly pardon. Mary forgives Elizabeth and prays for the welfare of England. She breaks down when Leicester arrives, protesting her innocence and asking him to support her as the hour of her death approaches. A final cannon shot is heard and Mary is led out to the scaffold.

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Conductor Graeme Jenkins (until 7 Nov)
Robin Newton (from 14 Nov)
Director Rudolf Frey
Designer Madeleine Boyd
Lighting Designer Matthew Haskins

Cast includes
Queen Elizabeth Adina Nitescu
Mary Stuart Judith Howarth
Leicester Bruce Sledge
Talbot Alastair Miles
Cecil Gary Griffiths

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Roberto Devereux

robertodevereux11_0Elizabeth I may rule the world but she does not rule her own heart. When her favourite, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex is threatened with charges of treason she strives to save him. Should he ever be arrested he simply has to present her ring to ensure his freedom.<

The public and the private clash with fatal consequences in the trilogy’s final instalment as Elizabeth’s grip on the throne begins to loosen. Roberto Devereux is an explosive operatic drama that enthrals throughout, culminating in a shattering finale.

Supported by a lead gift from the Peter Moores Foundation’s Swansong Project and WNO Bel Canto Syndicate.

In order to prevent rumours and to protect her own reputation, Queen Elizabeth I has sent her lover, Roberto Devereux, on a military mission to Ireland. In his absence, his enemies at court plan to push through a charge of treason against him in Parliament.

Sarah, Duchess of Nottingham anxiously waits for news of Devereux, with whom she had a secret affair some years earlier. Queen Elizabeth has agreed to see Devereux now that he has returned from Ireland. Cecil announces that Parliament is waiting for an answer from the Queen regarding the charges against Devereux.

Devereux obtains an audience with the Queen and she expresses her love for him, overheard by Sarah. Elizabeth gives Devereux a ring, to be returned to her if he is ever in danger, and demands to know whether he loves another woman and, if so to name her.

The Duke of Nottingham, a supporter and ally of Devereux, talks to him about his situation and his concerns about his own wife’s fidelity. Nottingham leaves to attend a meeting at which he hopes to express his support for Devereux.

Sarah and Devereux admit their love for one another but acknowledge that it has no future. He gives her the Queen’s ring and she gives him an embroidered scarf.

Cecil informs the Queen of Parliament’s decision: Devereux is to be sentenced to death for treason. The Queen resists signing the death sentence until she learns that a scarf was found with Devereux when he was arrested. She is shown the scarf, on which she discovers an embroidered declaration of love. Nottingham also sees and recognises the scarf. Elizabeth signs the death warrant.

Sarah receives a letter from Devereux, asking her to take his ring to the Queen and beg for mercy on his behalf. The Duke of Nottingham prevents her from leaving.

Devereux regrets a life of lies and indecision. Cecil comes to take him to the place of execution.

The Queen grieves for Devereux’s impending death. Sarah manages to reach her and gives her the ring. Elizabeth realises that Sarah is her rival. She tries to stop the execution but it is too late. Holding the Duke of Nottingham and Sarah responsible for the death of Devereux, Elizabeth longs for her own death, announcing that James, son of Mary Queen of Scots, will be King after her.

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Conductor Daniele Rustioni (until 8 Nov)
Christian Capocaccia (from 15 Nov)
Director Alessandro Talevi
Designer Madeleine Boyd
Lighting Designer Matthew Haskins
Movement Maxine Braham

Cast includes
Robert Devereux Leonardo Capalbo
Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Deshorties
Sarah the Duchess of Nottingham Leah-Marian Jones
Duke of Nottingham David Kempster
Walter Raleigh William Robert Allenby
Cecil Geraint Dodd

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