Tune in on Saturday, January 19 at noon to hear David McVicar's new production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at the Met Opera, starring Joyce DiDonato in the title role of Mary, Queen of Scots. Elza van den Heever is "a vocally burnished and emotionally tempestuous" Elizabeth (New York Times). Matthew Polenzani sings Leicester and Maurizio Benini conducts.
Imagine a confrontation between two powerful women on opposite sides of a religious war, the thrice-married Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, face-to-face with the Protestant "Virgin" Queen Elizabeth I. Like every person of the theater, past and present, Donizetti was ever on the prowl for "operatic" stories, and he found what he was looking for when he saw Andrea Maffei's Italian translation of Schiller's Mary Stuart (1800) in Milan. Donizetti had already begun an extended romance with the Tudors in Anna Bolena (Milan, 1830). Maria Stuarda was next, and he topped off the trilogy with Roberto Devereux (Naples, 1837).
The opera takes place in the late 16th century at the court of Queen Elizabeth I in London and at Fotheringhay Castle in central England, Mary's final place of confinement. At the time of her death in 1587, she had been imprisoned by Elizabeth for more than 18 years.