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Botelho also developed a fine rapport with Jonathan Pugsley, playing his friend Rochefort (Anna's brother). Puglsey was perhaps a little too frank and likeable in a role which is rather morally dubious. (Rochefort admits at the end that he pushed Anna into marriage with the King.) But Pugsley sang Donizetti's music without bluster and was convincing as Percy's faithful friend.

As Enrico, Riccardo Simonetti is perhaps slighter than the historical character, but this did mean that Enrico was rather more personable and believably sexually attractive than a more historically accurate portrayal. Simonetti has an attractive dark grained voice and made a fine Enrico. His performance was musical, but did not quite catch the character's dark unpredictability which is needed to make the plot work well. Surely you need to understand that Giovanna feels a mixture of love and fear for Enrico. Simonetti was impressive but just a little too comfortable.

Riccardo Simonetti (Henry VIII) and Julia Riley (Jane Seymour)
Riccardo Simonetti (Henry VIII) and Julia Riley (Jane Seymour)

His new love, Giovanna, was passionately played by Julia Riley. She has an attractive, warm voice but with a slight touch more vibrato than I would have liked in this role. But she has a commanding stage presence and made a moving Giovanna, trapped by her love in an awkward situation.

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Copyright © 15 March 2008 Robert Hugill, London UK


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