Maria Stuarda will prima at the Metropolitan Opera on the evening of December 31 for an eight performance run. Miss Joyce DiDonato is Maria Stuarda, Miss Elza van den Heever is Elisabetta 1, Mr. Matthew Polenzani is Leicester, Mr. Joshua Hopkins is Cecil, and Mr. Matthew Rose is Talbot. Mr. Maurizio Benini who is well acquainted with the work is on the podium. COMMANDOpera advises the casting to be vocally correct, although there is some amusement to Miss DiDonato as Maria Stuarda given the weight of her vocal instrument for an audience demographic who enjoy their Donizetti highly embellished. This will not be a Sutherland Stuarda in style but more that of a Caballe, if COMMANDOpera may be forgiven the boorish comparison. The above rendering is from the Metropolitan Opera’s new production which suggests an extremely traditional mounting.
COMMANDOpera has read every reputable historical livre over the past few decades and is well acquainted with the much (and unjustly) maligned Scottish Queen. Hollywood has not been particularly ethical in its respective treatments which is sadly where many draw their opinions on historical subjects. Mary, Queen of Scots, was shipped off at an early age to France where she eventually was betrothed to the he young Francis, Dauphin of France. After his untimely death as a young teen, there was no further use for Mary, who was unceremoniously shipped back to reign over Scotland by her mother in law, Catherine de Medici, rather than remaining in the only land she knew as home. Such was the manner of this period. A few months before removing to Scotland, Mary wrote to her cousin Elizabeth 1 for safe passage through England, whose assent arrived the day after Mary departed (Mary’s consistent claim to the English throne caused a great deal of difficulty in London). It is at this time alone where the two Queens came close to actually meeting. Mary arrived to a Scotland whose lairds were not in the slightest inclined to be ruled by any woman, chief among them, Mary’s own half brother, the Earl of Moray. The Earl had been running the council, accumulating wealth and property, and stood to lose a great deal of this with Mary’s return. Although Mary set about regaining royal lands, ruling justly, and very much in the mould of Elizabeth 1 (remember, she learned her trade rather well from her mother in law), she alone of the female rulers of her day had an impossible task to surmount with her macho councillors, for she enjoyed no long history in Scotland to have formed strong alliances. Her regnancy was unsustainable over the long term. Mary never set about murdering her husband Darnley in order to marry Lord Bothwell, however this convenient rumor which was set down during the Victorian era, appears to have taken hold in less scholarly minds. The Opera itself is based from the point of Mary’s incarceration subsequent to Darnleys murder, although many years after. Mary had escaped to England, after she was briefly imprisoned in Scotland, and became a prisoner in all but name only at Bolton Castle. Maria Stuarda takes many liberties on veracity where events are concerned, yet this venue finds the Maestro nailed down the character of the two proponents rather well.
Miss Sutherland essays ‘Oh Nube! Nella Pace Del Mesto Riposo Maria Stuarda London 1975
Miss Sutherland and Miss Tourangeau ‘Confrontation scene’ especially for NYC readers