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Anna Bolena: Behind the Scenes at Opera in the Heights

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The show hasn't even opened yet (the first performance is tonight at 7:30 p.m.), but we're completely in awe of these photos of the dress rehearsal of Anna Bolena over at Opera in the Heights. For one thing, we've always been obsessed with the sordid tales of Henry VIII's many wives, and Anne's particularly enthralling and tragic. And for another, just look at those amazing costumes!

Boleyn was mother to Queen Elizabeth I (perhaps the shrewdest and most interesting female character in the British monarchy) but her many miscarriages, inability to give birth to a boy and Henry's notoriously roving eye led to her quick disposal after only three years of marriage. She was beheaded at the Tower of London in her early thirties.

(As a side note, disputes over her age are interesting -- accounts put her year of birth anywhere from 1501 to 1507. Had she been born in in 1501, she would have been 35 at the time of her death, which might explain her difficulty in conceiving, especially in that era. However, let's not forget that Henry VIII only had ONE son between his six wives, so who knows whose genetics were to blame.)

She's also widely credited with influencing Henry VIII to declare England's independence from Rome and the Catholic Church -- he broke with the church in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Boleyn.

The opera, which picks up at the end of Boleyn's fading romance with Henry VIII (he was moving on to Jane Seymour) was written in 1830 by Gaetano Donizetti. It was his first opera, and it became a major hit. Seems like maybe Donizetti was as obsessed with Tudors as we are -- his other operas revolve around Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Ahh, romance. Sounds like the perfect pre-Valentine's date, doesn't it? Anna Bolena runs through Feb. 5. Check out more pictures after the jump.

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