SummerScape 2024 • On Sale Now!

New Production

Henri VIII

by Camille Saint-Saëns

July 21–30, 2023

Add to Calendar2023-07-21 6:30 pm2023-07-21 6:30 pmEDTHenri VIII

Libretto by Léonce Détroyat and Paul-Armand Silvestre
Directed by Jean-Romain Vesperini
American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein

Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater,
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“Botstein, and his annual opera production at Bard, seem more invaluable by the year.”—New York Times

“An excellent production by Jean-Romain Vesperini that presents the action lucidly and engrossingly.”—Financial Times

Henri VIII is French grand opera at its most magnificent. In this love triangle for the ages, an infamous Tudor king is determined to divorce Catherine of Aragon in favor of the ambitious, beautiful Anne Boleyn. Saint-Saëns’s exquisite vocal passages and rich orchestration bring this rarely performed masterpiece to vivid life in this “grand and compelling” (New York Times) new production.

Sung in French with English supertitles.

This production has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Villa Albertine.


Maestro's Introduction


Director's Interview


Jean-Romain Vesperini


Alfred Walker (bass-baritone)

Henri VIII

Lindsay Ammann (mezzo-soprano)

Anne Boleyn

Amanda Woodbury (soprano)

Catherine d’Aragon

Josh Lovell (tenor)

Don Gómez de Feria

Kevin Thompson (bass)

Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Harold Wilson (bass)

Duke of Norfolk

Alaysha Fox (soprano)

Lady Clarence

Christian Zaremba (bass)

Cardinal Campeggio, the papal legate

Rodell Rosel (tenor)

Earl of Surrey

Aaron Blake (tenor)

Garter King of Arms

Director's Bio

Jean-Romain Vesperini studied acting at l’École du Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris and singing at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he trained as a baritone. After graduation, Jean-Romain decided to pursue a career as a stage director and spent several years collaborating with Luc Bondy, Peter Stein, and Georges Lavaudant from 2005 until 2017.

As a result of these long-term partnerships, he built solid professional experience by managing, leading the artistic ensembles, planning, and negotiating in major Opera Houses such as La Scala, Paris and Lyon Opera, Bolshoi Opera, as well as at the Opéra-Comique, Salzburg Festspiele, Verona Opera, Aix en Provence festival.

In 2012, his career developed with a successful production of La Traviata invited by Rennes, Limoges, and Reims Opera houses in France, which was broadcast on french national television and radio, and which led to a return invitation by these Opera houses to stage a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. He also founded his own company and became a producer of his theatrical shows, being responsible for fundraising and building the production budget. He staged Ibsen’s The Lady From the Sea, Paravidino’s Two Brothers, Levin’s The Labour of Life, and Sacha Guitry’s Quadrille.

During the same period, he was appointed artistic director of Les Nuits de Corté festival in Corsica, where he worked on all aspects of the festival’s development, building a special partnership with Lyon Opera house and being in charge of the overall budget. He staged in this festival Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, and Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

At only 33, on Nicolas Joël and Stéphane Lissner’s specific request, he staged Gounod’s Faust at Opéra National de Paris conducted by Michel Plasson, with whom he would work on the same opera at the Geneva Opera house in 2018.

In 2018, The Bolshoi Theatre invited him to create a new production of Puccini’s Bohème, now an essential part of the opera house’s repertoire. This same year, Hong Kong Opera, in coproduction with The French May Festival, hired him for Bizet’s Carmen.

He staged Puccini’s Turandot at Ekaterinburg National Opera house and rediscovered Benjamin Godard’s Dante at Saint-Etienne opera house in coproduction with Palazzetto Bru Zane.

Last season, he staged Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at Opéra de Monte-Carlo and Sacha Guitry’s Quadrille at Théâtre National de Nice, Versailles, Amiens.

He also made his debut in the USA, staging Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi at Festival Napa Valley. This season, Saint Etienne Opera House invites him for a new french rediscovery, Joncières’s Lancelot. He is preparing Gounod’s Faust for the Quebec Opera House and Elisir d’Amore for Festival Napa Valley.

Alongside his artistic career, Jean-Romain Vesperini is passionate about bringing his experience to a cultural institution. He applied to be the director at the Capitole de Toulouse and Nice Opera. Both times he was part of the final shortlist of two candidates and even chosen by the committee in Nice.

With his education and background, Vesperini is deeply connected to the music and particularly aware of what the score brings to dramaturgy. He is extremely grateful to have worked with great artists such as Sir Antonio Pappano, Tugan Sokhiev, Evan Rogister, Zubin Mehta, Myung-Whun Chung, Daniele Rustioni, Alain Altinoglu, Daniele Gatti.

Jean-Romain Vesperini speaks French (mother tongue) and English, German, Italian, and Russian fluently.

Behind the Scenes



Footage: Aya Rebai HRA ’24
Editing: Garrett Sager HRA ’23
Music: (1) excerpt from “Chicago” from Illinois (2023 Bard SummerScape); (2) excerpt from Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 “Organ,” performed by the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein (released 2012)




Footage: Alain Blanchot
Music: excerpt from Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 “Organ,” performed by the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein (released 2012)

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