Opéra National de Paris
Following decades of oblivion, Maria Stuarda, a masterpiece of nineteenth-century opera, has begun its European renaissance, and the title has deservedly returned to the public’s favour. It shows the full force of bel canto and matches the greatness of the more famous Lucia di Lammermoor.
When Elizabeth enters the stage with a naked skull, encased in the stylish frame of an Elizabethan collar, it becomes clear that this will be a show about death. She was the monarch who had her cousin Mary, Queen of Scotts beheaded. The opera, loosely based on Friedrich Schiller’s drama, culminates in a confrontation between the two protagonists — although in reality they never met. We see a clash of the pure desire for power with the pure desire of love — one leads to a life of cold emptiness, the other leads to death.
The staging puts the two heroines in a world almost like ours, in the twentieth century, making us remember in this way the reality of power that kills, the reality of historical process, from which one can save oneself only by accepting with dignity what one cannot escape from.
Roberto, Earl of Leicester
Lord Guglielmo Cecil