Friday, November 9, 2012

Anna Bolena at the MN Opera

You know that I usually like to give you loads and loads of history and backstory whenever I go to an opera, but this time, all you need to know about Anne Boleyn, 2nd wife of Henry VIII, can be heard in this song:

"Young Anne Boleyn she was two, had a daughter, the best she could do.  I said she flirted with some other man, and off for the chop went dear Anne"

Sexy Henry!  Take me now!
 The 1830 opera Anna Bolena by Donizetti is ostensibly a portrayal of Anne Boleyn's life leading up to the day when Henry had her head chopped off, as he was wont to do.  Donizetti did four operas about Tudor England so I was excited for some history.

Then during the reception the speaker told us, "If you're a fan of Showtime's The Tudors, rest assured that we have a very sexy Henry for you!" And I sighed the collective sigh of a million historians crying out in terror, only to be suddenly silenced. [Link:  Sexy Henry's diet]

To read my write-up of the opera and see my lovely cartoons, keep read on under the cut.

I would describe Anna Bolena as: 
a tragic portrayal 
of a vilifying interpretation 
of a humanizing lie 
made to cover up the vilifying facts
that spoke to a tragic reality.

In real life Henry was desperate for a son, but he could only make girls and miscarriages, so he habitually blamed his wives for having "broken wombs."  Henry had already divorced his first wife for having the nerve to birth a daughter instead of a son, so when Anne had another daughter, he decided to accuse her of TREASON and have her executed.  That'll show her.
During the trial, Henry also accused Anne of adultery and incest of all things, just to seal the deal.  After the deed was done, Henry propagated a myth that Anne had been cheating on him, to make himself seem like the good guy.  He then promptly went on to marry his mistress, Jane Seymour.

("Hey baby, marry me!  True, I killed my last wife, but go easy on me, I'm a widower!")

At first, pop culture believed the lie as told.  The king's infallible, thus Anne Boleyn was bad, end of.  However, by the time we get to the 1830s, people like Donizetti were wise to the fact that Henry was the bad guy here.  Still, even in Donizetti's time, people didn't know how far the smear campaign went.  They thought, "The king said Anne fell in love with another man because she was evil, so she must have fallen in love with another man because Henry was evil and didn't treat her right."  They had no way of knowing that there really was no other man and Henry pulled it all out of his ass.

That's why I call it a tragic portrayal of a vilifying interpretation of a humanizing lie made to cover up the vilifying truth that spoke to a tragic reality.

Ultimately, however, the joke was on Henry because Anne Boleyn's daughter would grow up to be none other than Miranda Richardson in Blackadder. 

Who's Queen?

 Enuffa dat.  Time for the part of the blog that actually gets me invited to these:


In this scene the queen enters with her court peeps

No cartoonist on earth can resist the allure of FLUFFY TUDOR PANTS

Queen probably wonders where Henry is or begins to suspect something it up

"We are not amused... wait that's
somebody else's line."

 She's rightly suspicious, Henry's hobnobbing with Jane Seymour!

Ooh yeah, nice and smooth,
sexy Henry
Do you like this design or KNOT? 
WEAVE been working on it all day!
I've got a million of these.
The Tudor Rose.  It means stuff.  Google it. 

 Just then, Anne's old boyfriend (?) Lord Percy returns to England!

I'm 6 now

So Percy goes to Anne in the master bedroom and tries to win her back... even though she's married... to the king.  Unfortunately, a pipey minstrel was stalking Anne himself, and overhears their hot and heavy... duet.

Sexy Henry is MAD

 So Henry tortures some people, then imprisons Anne, Percy, and Anne's brother.

Then Henry strings everyone along for about an hour and then KILLS EVERYBODY.  Because he's king and he can.

The moral of tonight's story:

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