Artist Of The Week: Hibla Gerzmava Brings ‘Anna Bolena’ To Life At La Scala

By Francisco Salazar

Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” returns to the stage of the Teatro alla Scala after an absence of 35 years and with it comes a new leading lady, Hibla Gerzmava. Gerzmava, who has become an international star, is making a role debut in one of Bel Canto most demanding operas.

Gerzmava has sung many Bel Canto roles by Donizetti including “Lucia di Lammermoor” and “L’Elisir d’Amore” but none of these roles compare to “Anna Bolena.” The title role has been described as one of the toughest in the Bel Canto and soprano repertory in general. It is not only a long night but requires the soprano to sing from the bottom to the very highest extremes of her range. Additionally, the pressure for Gerzmava will be ramped up as she sings it in the theater where the legendary Maria Callas revived the work and made it a major staple in the modern operatic canon. Gerzmava has recently moved into the dramatic-lyric repertoire including Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello” and Elisabetta di Valois in Verdi’s “Don Carlo.” This new role will definitely open new possibilities in her voice and her career.

For her Bolena, Gerzmava will be joined by veteran singers Sonia Ganassi, Piero Pretti and Carlo Colombara.

Established in Russia as a leading soprano, Gerzmava broke out onto the international scene after her performances of Mimi in Puccini’s “La Bohème” at the Royal Opera House. Since then the soprano has become a favorite of the Metropolitan Opera where she has performed in “Les Contes D’Hofmann,” “Don Giovanni,” “Turandot” and “Otello.” She has also made major debuts in Berlin, Munich Vienna, Paris and Rome. She also continues to return to Moscow where she performs at the Bolshoi in major roles and also performs on numerous television shows in crossover works. Gerzmava also made a name for herself when she performed at the closing night of the Sochi Olympics.

For those not familiar with the work of Gerzmava She has also recorded numerous albums including “Opera Jazz Blues,” “Vocal Cycles and Romances by Russian Composers.”


Correction: The article previously stated that the opera had not been seen in 60 years. In actuality the last production of Anna Bolena at la Scala was in 1982 when Cecilia Gasdia & Montserrat Caballe sang the role. 


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