Opera Scotland

Maria Stuarda 1994Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Mary Stuart

Scottish Opera’s 1994-5 season opened at the Edinburgh Festival with a new production of Fidelio. The Glasgow programme saw this joined by a new Maria Stuarda and a revival of Madama Butterfly. There was also a short group of performances of Tristan und Isolde, a carry-forward from the previous summer with some cast changes. At Christmas the entertainment was the final run of Iolanthe, with the New Year bringing an interesting new modern dress Marriage of Figaro. The last group of operas, in the spring, consisted of an unknown recent Russian work, Schnittke's Life With an Idiot, in a co-production with ENO, and a revival of La forza del destino along with further performances of Madama Butterfly.

The company’s first full-scale staging of Donizetti’s “other” Scottish opera was a mixed blessing, though it had enough positive elements to have justified revival in a modified form, which never came. The staging by Stefanos Lazaridis had some interesting features, marred by the trivialising effect of repeatedly introducing two irritatingly twee moppets who constantly played games and upstaged the grown-ups at every opportunity. This concept represented some rivalry between the queens from childhood. Apart from that and the mobile inner stage, like a small badminton court, that constantly got in the way, the basic concept was promising. The chorus, garbed in black, except for their white ruffs, sat throughout on three sides of the stage, as in the surviving contemporary drawing of the execution chamber at Fotheringhay, witnessing all the proceedings. This fixed layout, all seated, did inevitably lead to a few problems with projection and balance, however - they sometimes sounded a long way off.

A generally good cast of richly costumed principals, led by Yvonne Kenny in a welcome return to the company, made a strong effect. She sang commandingly in the second act, while in the third she generated tremendous emotional power. There was lots of variety in her demanding succession of arias in the final scenes. The Japanese mezzo cast as Elizabeth, by contrast, seemed to lack the vocal and dramatic stature required, especially in the second-act finale.

Peter Bronder's openly produced tenor was ideal for this role, projecting clearly while still maintaining the essential lyricism. Stafford Dean was perhaps not obvious casting as Cecil - Talbot would have been the more naturally suitable role for his dark tones, but he made an incisively implacable advisor. David Ellis was himself excellent in the great last act confession scene.

Armstrong was not previously known for his Donizetti, but his conducting was fierily dramatic and worked well, using a new critical edition of the score by Anders Wiklund.

Performance Cast

Elisabetta Elizabeth, Queen of England

Michiè Nakamaru

Giorgio Talbot George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury

David Ellis

Lord Guglielmo Cecil Sir William Cecil

Stafford Dean

Roberto di Leicester Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Peter Bronder

Anna Hannah Kennedy, Mary's companion

Elizabeth McCormack

Maria Stuarda Mary Stuart

Yvonne Kenny (Exc Nov 8, 16, 22, 26)

Penelope Walmsley-Clark (Nov 8, 16, 22, 26)

Performance DatesMaria Stuarda 1994

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Oct, 19.15 12 Oct, 19.15 15 Oct, 19.15 20 Oct, 19.15 8 Nov, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

16 Nov, 19.15 22 Nov, 19.15 26 Nov, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

2 Dec, 19.15 6 Dec, 19.15 9 Dec, 19.16

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