Thursday, November 3, 2011

Donizetti & Mary Stuart's Great Drama

Whether you believe that Mary Stuart was the most amoral, conniving and ruthless female of Elizabethan England or the most tragic victim of overwhelming and relentless circumstances and doomed to tragic grandeur, her life is one of the great historical dramas. It was the kind of life that was perhaps made even more interesting because of the contradictions and controversies that rage to this day. It was a story made for opera (and later film,with Glenda Jackson as Liz and Vanessa Redgrave as Mary) and has been dramatized for the stage most famously by Schiller(1800) then the musical theatre by Donizetti (1835) and into our own with Thea Musgrave's 1977 composition .

To be tied to three great kingdoms such as France, Scotland and England by marriage or birthright.To marry three times with mounting and catastrophic results. To live in an unending enmity with a powerful sister always wary of the dangers that haunted her reign; to be the focus of religious fanatics, to be pursued by men both bewitched by her beauty and grace and even more enthralled with power. It was inevitable perhaps that she was marked for both exceptionalism and martyrdom. From the unceasing fear of Queen Elizabeth's advisors,afraid she would spark rebellion or the Scots nobles terrified of a triumphant return. It speaks volumes that neither exile nor impoverishment (she left Scotland literally with nothing and had to barter for clothes with the family silver), nor the forging of the Casket Letters to implicate her in the murder of her second husband or finally even the strategic abandoning her to the wilderness of Bolton Castle followed by almost 19 years of virtual imprisonment. None of this was enough, only her death would suffice.

Tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda,with Beverly Sills as the tragic heroine and Eileen Farrell as Elizabeth, this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

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