Rave: Met’s ‘Maria Stuarda’ broadcast

Elza van den Heever and Joyce DiDonato in the Met's 'Maria Stuarda'The Metropolitan Opera‘s HD broadcast of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda on Jan 19 was a highlight of the season. If you missed it, be sure to turn out for the rebroadcast 2/6, or go catch the last performance in New York on 1/26.  The production deserves every word of the NY Times’ rave review, by Anthony Tommasini, including, and especially, this to-die-for praise for Joyce DiDonato in the title role:

Ms. DiDonato’s performance will be pointed to as a model of singing in which all components of the art form — technique, sound, color, nuance, diction — come together in service to expression and eloquence.

This particular moment mentioned by Tommasini, near the end, is alone worth the price of admission.  “Ms. DiDonato is simply magnificent, singing with plush richness and aching beauty. At a few moments, from the collective sounds of the subdued chorus and orchestra, a pianissimo high note, almost inaudible, emerged from Ms. DiDonato’s voice, slowly blooming in sound and throbbing richness.”

The rest of the cast is excellent also, particularly Elza van den Heever making her Met debut as Elizabeth, Mary Stuart’s cousin and triumphant political rival, and Matthew Rose, as Talbot.  The Met chorus sang better than usual, and the orchestra, was, as always, magnificent.

The first act ends with a stunning confrontation scene between these two, in which Maria, after trying to keep her cool in hopes of some reconciliation, as Elisabetta puts her down, finally explodes in a furious denunciation of the queen.

At the beginning of the second act, Elizabeth is still seething over the insults, which, in the libretto, happened the day before, or at least recently.  But the director, David McVicar, somewhat incongruously chooses to stick closer to history by setting the act 10 years later. He gives Elizabeth, the older of the two, rheumatism and a decayed appearance, which she only has to embody long enough to dramatically agonize over, and finally sign, Mary’s death warrant.  Mary is saddled with a Parkinsonian tremor that she has to work hard to simulate through the entire act.

There were many people in the theater crying through most of the extremely poignant and moving second act. Be sure to bring your hanky.

Please join us as Listers Go to the Movies for the encore broadcast on Wed, 2/6/13.  Although there are a variety of theaters in the Southland that host this screening event, we’ll meet at our favorite theater in Alhambra, with easy parking, comfy theaters and food nearby for an after-show snack.  Get details here — hope to see you there!

1 thought on “Rave: Met’s ‘Maria Stuarda’ broadcast”

  1. In the last scene, I recall DiDonato singing a vibrant note (medium or medium high) over the chorus — it seemed to last forever. But it wasn’t so much it’s duration as they way it was sustained that was so memorable. I predict it will go down in the annals, like Montserrat Caballe’s very long ending note in “Tu che le vanita” from Don Carlo.

    As someone who has seen many “frothy” productions of bel canto operas, I appreciated the look, mood & theatricality of this production. DiDonato was wonderful–a standard setting performance certainly. Heever was also, I felt, extremely expressive, esp. in her first cavatina.

    I think it’s an underrated score–but not one that plays well to the groundlings.


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