Review: WNO - Maria Stuarda @ WMC
On a cold and rainy Friday the 13th, I ventured into the Wales Millennium Centre for the second instalment of Welsh National Opera’s Tudor season. After the mixed bag that was Anna Bolena, things looked up in Maria Stuarda. The date felt fitting since the main figure of this opera, Mary, Queen of Scots was a very unlucky person and is in my eyes a pitiful soul.
The sets for all three operas are the same. But here we had an added piece. The giant boxes that were for both sides of the coin. Queen Elizabeth had one side, Mary the other side being her cell. This made for some great duality in the production. The opera is shorter than Anna Bolena and made for more comfortable viewing. It’s shorter and had much more drama in my eyes. The confrontation between both Queens (this is fabricated, since they never met) is very tense and for ten minutes could have gone either way with the two characters. Liz wears some armour as if ready for anything. Mary, who has grown sick of her cousin, loses her rag after all the insults and rudeness and declares Queen Liz a "vile bastard!"
The programme also said:
During the rehearsals for the first performance of Maria Stuarda, Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis (singing the title role) delivered her lines denouncing Queen Elizabeth (sung by Anna del Serre) as a vile bastard, with such venom that del Serre took the insult personally, seized de Begnis by the hair and started biting and punching her. De Begnis returned the attack so vigorously that del Serre fainted and had to be carried home.
I’m so glad they put that in the programme.
Adina Nitescu as Elizabeth took me by surprise. Her singing at moments went into the stratosphere. My eyes bulged in disbelief and amazement at her high delivery. It was a case of anything you can sing, I can sing higher. Judith Howarth as Mary was impeccable but couldn’t live up to the more dominant Queen. She wore a kilt type dress and Adina had ginger hair so we could easily pick the Queens out. Perhaps too stereotypical?
I was simply mortified at the very end of the work, since a man in the audience had the compulsion and sheer idiocy to yell out very loudly, "Rubbish!" He was clearly referring to the production and I couldn’t bare the thought of someone attempting to ruin this. There was less booing than last time for the director Rudolf Frey and his posse. I do hope people can resist the urge to make an idiot of themselves for Roberto Devereux. I simply won’t stand for it. Wait until its well over to express your opinion.
The ending, I found was quite stirring. Mary, who is sent back to her cell and beheaded, is quickly taken out of view as we see Elizabeth in her own 'cell' and in anguish over the execution. Mary has become free, but it is Liz who has now in prison, of sorts. It’s arguably one of the most the most controversial acts under her reign. Would Mary have ever truly wanted to become Queen of England? We will never knowâ€¦
I rub my hands in anticipation for Roberto Devereux.
Related Article: Review: WNO - Anna Bolena @ WMC