Mary, Queen of Scots (Maria Stuarda)
October 18 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Libretto by Giuseppe Bardari
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Conducted by James Allbritten
Freedom. After 18 years of being held prisoner by Queen Elizabeth, her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots breathes fresh air. Believing herself to be the true heir to the throne, Mary has been imprisoned first for plotting against her cousin, and ultimately for attempting to murder her. This day of freedom turns to condemnation as these empowered women have a momentous meeting.
Cast & Creative
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, prisoner in England: Jodi Burns
Elizabeth I, Queen of England: Yulia Lysenko
Robert, Earl of Leicester: Kirk Dougherty
George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury: Jonathan Hays
Lord William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer: Dan Boye
Hannah Kennedy, Maria’s nurse: Brennan Martinez
Stage Director Steven LaCosse
Designer Howard Jones
Like a stage play or a movie, an opera starts with words — thousands of words. An opera’s words are called its libretto, whereas, in a stage play, the words are called the script, and in a movie they’re called the screenplay.
Libretto means “little book” in Italian, and that’s precisely what it is; your average libretto is scarcely thicker than a TV Guide. But because singing a sentence takes about three times longer than saying it, a “little book,” when set to music, becomes a full evening in the theater. (Dummies.com)
Mary, Queen of Scots: Synopsis
Scene 1: The Palace of Westminster
The Court awaits the arrival of Queen Elizabeth, who is expected to announce her marriage to the Duke of Anjou. Elizabeth reveals that she is still undecided as whether to unite the thrones of England and France by this marriage but assures her Court that she will only act for the good of the people. Aside, she confesses her secret love for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Talbot and the courtiers then plead for mercy towards Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, imprisoned at Fotheringhay, but Elizabeth, encouraged by Sir William Cecil, is unwilling to relent.
Leicester arrives and is ordered by Elizabeth to take her ring to the French envoy as a token of her provisional acceptance of the marriage proposal. Deeply hurt by his cool reaction to this news, the Queen departs. Talbot tells Leicester of a meeting with Mary and gives him a portrait of her, along with a letter begging for his help. Leicester vows to secure Mary’s freedom. When Elizabeth returns, she demands to see the letter he is holding. Despite her anger at Mary’s aspirations to the English crown and her intense jealousy of Leicester’s affections, she reluctantly agrees to visit her.
Scene 2: The Grounds of Fotheringhay Castle
Mary and her companion, Hanna are released to the grounds surrounding the castle, and in the fresh air recollect their early life in France. Hearing the sounds of the Royal Hunt, Mary realizes that Elizabeth is in the vicinity. Leicester arrives and explains that the Hunt is only a pretext for Elizabeth to visit Mary and persuades her to be submissive if she hopes for mercy. As the two women meet for the first time, each feels instant hostility towards the other. Mary humbles herself but Elizabeth responds by accusing her of treachery, murder and debauchery. Mary, taunted beyond endurance, denounces Elizabeth as the bastard daughter of Anne Boleyn.
Scene 1: The Palace at Westminster
Cecil urges Elizabeth to sign the order for Mary’s execution, following her complicity in the Babington plot to assassinate the Queen, but Elizabeth is still undecided; she cannot bring herself to condemn an anointed monarch. Cecil eventually succeeds in persuading Elizabeth to sign the warrant. When Leicester learns that Mary has been condemned to death, he makes a final plea for her life, reproaching Elizabeth for her cruelty when she refuses to yield. He is then commanded by the Queen to witness Mary’s execution.
Scene 2: Mary’s apartment in Fotheringay
Mary is visited by Cecil and Talbot. Cecil hands her the death sentence and leaves her alone with Talbot. Talbot tells her of Elizabeth’s decision that Leicester is to witness her execution. Mary becomes distraught and imagines that she sees the ghosts of her former husband and lover, Darnley and Rizzio. Talbot urges her to place her trust in heaven and to prepare to face her death with resignation.
Scene 3: A courtyard in Fotheringay
A waiting crowd watches the preparations for Mary’s execution. Mary bids them farewell and they join her in a final prayer for heavenly pardon. Mary forgives Elizabeth and prays for the welfare of England. She breaks down when Leicester arrives, protesting her innocence and asking him to support her as the hour of her death approaches. A final cannon shot is heard and Mary walks to the scaffold.