You’d think Anna Bolena, Dallas Opera’s final entry in Donizetti’s Tudor Trilogy, would be as juicy as the story that inspired it: Infidelity, treason, politics, religion, even a beheading! But the only head missing is the one that kept sense how to make the production work as a stage piece.

Denyce Graves’ opening aria, with her distinctive mezzo power, sets a high bar for musicality of the show, which Oren Gradus as Henry VIII, Stephen Costello as Lord Percy and Hasmit Papian as Anne meet.

But aside from a homoerotic stag fight between two shirtless brutes, it drags. The elephantine scenery — a giant set of accordian doors that teeter dangerously during scene changes — and some stodgy, presentational acting (especially the false performance by Elena Belfiore in the “trouser role” as Smeton), rob the opera of its drama. Even a doomed queen deserves more life than this generates. (On the other hand, there’s still time to catch Don Giovanni, which is very much worth a look.)

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.