QUEENS AT ODDS: THE STORY OF MARIA STUARDA
Maria Stuarda is a tragic opera by Gaetano Donizetti based on the translation of Friedrich Schiller's 1800 play titled Maria Stuart, a story based on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Maria Stuarda is one of Donizetti's operas which focus on the Tudor and Stuart period. The opera was first performed on December 30, 1835 at La Scala, Milan.
Within the palace walls, the Queen of England, Elisabetta considers the King of France's marriage proposal. This is a perfect match politically for her subjects. For her on the other hand, such a union won't be perfect as she finds herself longing for the Earl of Leicester, Roberto. Talbot arrives on behalf of Maria, her cousin and the Queen of Scotland, to seek for mercy after Maria once tried to take the English throne. To make matters worse, Roberto is in love with Maria. To test how much Roberto loves Maria, Elisabeta requests him to deliver a ring to the King of France to signify the acceptance of the marriage proposal. Roberto obeys the order, which only confirms his love towards Maria.
Roberto leaves and is approached by Talbot, who gives him a picture of Maria along with a letter requesting for a meeting with Elisabetta. Vowing to do anything for Maria, Roberto agrees to have a conversation with the Queen of England on the behalf of Maria. When he returns, Roberto talks with Elisabetta who agrees to meet with Maria despite some hesitation.
Maria wanders through the park outside Fotheringay Castle accompanied by her nurse, Anna. She reminisces about her youthful days and the joys of her limited freedom after being imprisoned. Horns sound in the distance announcing the Queen's arrival. Maria gets anxious and reconsiders meeting Elisabetta, but before she can make her exit, Roberto enters and encourages her to stay.
The two queens meet. It becomes clear that they both have reservations and resentment towards each other. Elisabetta was encouraged prior to the meeting by her councilors to have Maria executed, but she turned the suggestion down. However, she is furious that Roberto is defending Maria with immense devotion. Maria tries to remain calm as Elisabetta throws multiple insults at her. Maria responds by calling Elisabetta an illegitimate child who has no right to the throne. Elisabetta gets angry and tells her to prepare for her death.
Queen Elisabetta hesitates to sign Maria's death warrant. She fears for her reputation and public reaction. Her councilors on the other hand try to convince that Maria's death is for the good of the kingdom and her safety. She hesitates despite the pressure. However, jealousy drives her to sign the death warrant, an action she takes when Roberto comes in pleading for Maria.
Maria refuses to see a priest when she is brought to the gallows. However, realizing that the end of her days is at hand, she confesses her wrong doings to Talbot. Before she is executed, she prays for Roberto, Elisabetta, and England.
THE MAIN ROLES
Maria Stuarda, Queen of Scotland, Soprano
Anna, Maria's companion, Mezzo-soprano
Roberto, Earl of Leicester, Tenor
Elissabetta, Queen of England, Soprano
Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury,Bass
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