History and the Opera in Maria Stuarda

Got to see Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda  at the Met earlier this week – a fantastic production! Glad I saw it before it closes on Saturday. One of  his three Tudor queen operas, and based on a play by Frederick Schiller, I found it very engaging – even if the central scene with these historical figures is pure fiction.  The opera revolves around the dilemma faced by Queen Elizabeth I of England, regarding her cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, whom she’s kept imprisoned for 18 years.  Members of the court and aristocracy are divided as to whether Mary should be set free or beheaded, and make their case to Elizabeth, who knows she must make a decision, but also realizes that there could be terrible consequences, whatever she does.  One of the main scenes is an imaginary meeting between the two queens, in which the power play between these two women is vividly brought to life.  Even though the opera ends with Mary Stuart walking to her beheading, I didn’t feel depressed.  The performances were all brilliant. 

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