The Tudors talk-throughs

30 July 2013

At the beginning of every season, WNO join together as a company to listen to a Director talk through their vision for a production. Stage managers, finance officers, costume makers, marketing managers, singers and more come together in a rehearsal room for this first look at what the Director has in mind. Today you get to be part of the excitement, read on for extracts of the thoughts of Alessandro Talevi and Rudolf Frey on the productions of Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda respectively. Let us know what you think using #wnotudors, or tweet, email or Facebook your questions for the directors.  

Director Alessandro Talevi on Anna Bolena

Alessandro talked about the characters and their inner selves...

“The production begins with a sense of failure that Anne has been loaded with. Percy has a tenuous grip on reality. Henry meanwhile is having the mother of all mid-life crises... He has a lack of empathy from having too much power and no boundaries. Jane is the sanest person in the whole opera.”

He also discussed the idea of period, literality and costumes.

“We’re not going for literal historicism, but the figures are authentic: this is Henry, this is Anne, this is Jane. Big costumes inhibit... This music has a very formal structure, the last thing you need is added strictures. Chorus have their own characters which must be inhibited when they’re in the court – personalities must be ‘covered up’. “

Alessandro sees Henry VIII as ever-watchful in the opera.

“The black box set is the dark space of Henry’s realm. There is a sense people are always being spied on by Henry.”

Finally Alessandro talked about the role of women in Anna Bolena.

“At the beginning of the opera we witness a miscarriage. Births were a spectacle for the court. We’ll see Anne very vulnerable and prone. Women in the piece are very vulnerable. The set features big trophy heads on the walls connote baronial halls – but also suggest that women are trophies.”

Director Rudolf Frey on Maria Stuarda 

Rudolf hinted about why the meeting between the two queens becomes so explosive...

“Leicester is a catalyst – the meeting between the two queens would have happened differently if not for Leicester.”

He also discussed the idea of having two queens ‘imprisoned’ in their own habitats.

“This is a Director’s dream – one piece, two queens. I’m interested in the duality – mirroring two women at the same time. In this production we will give them their own equal but distinctive habitat on stage - the larger than life Queens will almost appear as if they were precious artefacts in a contemporary exhibition.  Elizabeth’s box represents her ornate palace, Mary’s is stripped away – very light and bright. Who is more in prison? We will play with their boxes like they are exhibition spaces, and glass will create a two-way mirror effect. ”