Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Aldo Ceccato, Stuart Burrows, Eileen Farrell|
Donizetti: Maria Stuarda
The Most Dramatic Catholic Queen: The Power Of Opera
Rachel Garret | Beverly Hills | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Donizetti knew that controversy and ambitious subject matter attracted audiences and raised the standards of grand opera. Never is this more true than in his opera, Maria Stuarda, (Mary Stewart), the infamous Catholic queen who was executed by decree of Elizabeth I on grounds of conspiracy and treason. She is also said to have killed her husband to assume the throne of Scotland. She was queen of France and Scotland, and had strong reason to be the next queen of England. This proved to be the biggest threat for Elizabeth I. In the Donizetti opera, which was banned for some time for its graphic representation of English political intrigue and the portrayal of Mary Stewart as a suffering, innocent victim. Musically and vocally, it is a powerful drama.In 1972, Beverly Sills, Eileen Farrel, Stuart Burrows and conductor Aldo Ceccato amazed audiences with this powerful operatic drama. Beverly Sills revived the Donizetti operas that had not been given much thought prior to the 60's and 70's. Beverly Sills portrays Mary Stewart, Eileen Farrel is Elizabeth I and Stuart Burrows is Leicester, Mary Stewart's love interest. At the hands of Beverly Sills, the role of Mary Stewart comes through as a woman who is repentent, innocent and suffering. Although there is no great demand for dramatic vocals, there are arias which showcase a lot of talent and character. In Mary's aria, "O Nube" (O cloud!) Mary strolls the gardens of Forthingay castle, where she is imprisoned, longing to float as free as a cloud to return to her native soil of France. Her vibrato and coloratura techniques effectively describe her nostalgia. The ensuing aria "Nelle pace, nel mesto riposo" (In the peace of my sad seclusion" she suddenly despairs as Queen Elizabeth and her attendants prepare to confront her. She is stricken with fear, for she knows Elizabeth overpowers her, her very life is in her hands. Eileen Farrel's powerful voice appropriately fits with the angry Elizabeth I in this opera. Next to Beverly's lighter, heroine style, the Queen is the darker role. Farrel and Sills deliver a sensational confrontation scene, in which amidst raging screams, they exchange insults. Queen Elizabeth then sentences Sills to death in the sextet "Va preparati furente" (Prepare yourself!) Her anger and pride are detailed in her aria "Quella vita a me funesta" (That life that threatened me).Musically, Donizetti's score to Maria Stuarda is aptly dramatic, full of fire and sentimentalism. The key to making a dramatic opera out of strict bel canto singing lies in the inflection of the text. Each character in the opera act and sing in Shakespearean fashion. Stuart Burrows' tenor voice is graceful, heroic, but unfulfilling in his heroism in the opera, especially when he vows to save Mary but can do nothing to stop her execution except to watch. The last moments of the opera are the most dramatic. Mary Stewart accepts her fate and rallies her followers and friends into a finaly prayer of forgiveness "De te di un umile preghiera" (Hear our humble prayer). The chorus is elegiac and rises to a climax, perfectly set against the soaring and sustained lines of Mary's prayer, almost sounding like a national anthem. The final scene has Mary walking up to the execution block and preparing for her death, while the chorus sympathizes with her plight and even declare her innocence. The power and magnitude of such a moment is a must hear and watch in opera. A masterpiece."
Mary Queen Of Scots The Opera: Sensational!
Rachel Garret | 09/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ABOUT THE HISTORIC FIGURE: Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was executed by beheading in 1587 during Queen Elizabeth I's reign in England. Mary Stuart was Queen Elizabeth's cousin, herself part of the famous Tudor family line. She was raised Catholic in France where even when she departed from France, she was still recognized as Queen of France. She married the ambitious Catholic Lord Henry Darnley of Scotland. Now she wore two crowns figuratively on her head- that of France and Scotland. Lord Darnley became jealous when he heard about the rumors of adultery between Mary and her personal secretary/musician David Rizzio. In front of Mary herself, Lord Darnley killed Rizzio. Shortly afterward, Lord Darnley himself was murdered mysteriously. It is commonly accepted by historians that Mary Stuart was involved somehow in a plot for the principle suspect of Lord Darnley's death was the Earl of Bothwell, whom Mary married so soon after Darnley's death. Eventually Bothwell was punished by death and Mary Stuart, long been suspected for the death of Darnley, was taken prisoner in Fotheringay, England. Upon the reluctant decree of Queen Elizabeth, she was executed. The portrait of Mary Queen of Scots is that of an ambitious, powerful and strong woman. And history hates strong women- Cleopatra, Jezebel, Lucrezia Borgia, etc and usually come to some disastrous end. Because Mary Stuart was truly entitled to the English throne more legitimately than the "illegitimate" daughter of Henry the 8th- Queen Elizabeth, she had good reasons to rival her cousin. Seen as a threat, Mary Queen of Scots was executed. Another factor could be the fact that Mary Stuart was a devout Catholic and at the time of Elizabeth's reign, Protestant thinking was the official religion.
It was seen as a Protestant triumph over the Catholics. However, to the Catholics of the time, Mary Stuart was a Catholic martyr who was victim of political rivalry and a faithful, innocent woman to the end. It is this victimized, suffering Catholic martyr who was innocent that Donizetti wanted to portray in his opera.ABOUT THIS OPERA: In 1971, after her successful performance as Queen Elizabeth in "Roberto Devereux", Bevery Sills took on the role of Mary Queen of Scots in the other Donizetti opera "Maria Stuarda". Along with a cast of excellent singers - Eileen Farrel as Quen Elizabeth, Stuart Burrows as Leicester, Louis Quilico as Talbot and Patricia Kern as Anna, the opera was a hit at the New York City Opera. Once again, British history came to life through a high calibre opera. A lot of the dramatic inflection comes from Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stewart (Eileen Farrel and Beverly Sills). Eileen Farrel's voice is heavy and big, she uses her chest register with aplomb and appropriately fits the role of the jealous queen. Note the masterful arias she sings- Act I- "Ah quando all' ara scorgemi" "Quali Sensi", Acts 2's sextet "E sempre La Stessa" which is followed by the Confrontation Scene, and Act 3's "Quella Vita" and her last scene-duet "D'una sorella o barbara" with Stuart Burrows's Leicester.Beverly Sills took on the role of Mary Stuart with tremendous success. Before her, only the World War II Era soprano Leyla Gencer had performed the role with acclaim. Beverly Sills' interpretation is dramatic, suffering and beautiful to hear. She is introduced in Act 2 where the arias " O Nube!" and "Nella pace" showcase her coloratura and lyric techniques gorgeously. Her confrontation with Queen Elizabeth is unforgettable, as she pushes her voice down ( qual insulto! O ria baffarda! And in the lines no! Figlia Impure Di Bolena). Boldly, Mary Stuart denounces Queen Elizabeth as wrongly enthroned because she is illegitimate in the famous, nearly censored liens "Vil Bastarda" vile bastard. Her Prison Scene is also very well done. Note how she carries her dramatic texture in "Che Voi ?" when Cecil and Talbot visit her in prison to read her death sentence - "Cosi nell Inglaterra vien giudicata una regina ? So it is in England that a Queen is brought to judgement ?" and listen how dramatically she raises her voice "Basta! Or Basta! Vane!" (Enough! Enough! Get out!) these lines are similar to a lot of the lower registers that Beverly Sills used for Queen Elizabeth's character in Roberto Devereux. The highlights of Beverly Sills for this opera come at the end. Her Confession Aria "Quando il Luce Rosea" which become a duet with Talbot is exceptionally moving. At the end of the opera, Beverly Sills' Prayer Aria- "Deh tu di un umile preghiera" which features chorus is the best scene in all Italian opera. Mary Stuart gathers her friends and they join in prayer. The chorus swells and Beverly Sill's high voice floats in sustained passion overhead before cannon shots are heard announcing the time of her execution. The last scene is remarkably intense. Leicester Stuart Burrows comes to save Mary far too late and can only watch as she is lead to the block- Ah Se un giorno da queste ritorte". This opera is among one of the most dramatic ever made."
This Truly Is "Bel Canto"!
Steven Muni | Sutter Creek, CA USA | 07/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beverly Sills is justifiably famous for her performances and recordings of the three Donizetti "Mad Queen" operas--"Anna Bolena", "Roberto Devereux", and this one, "Maria Stuarda". All three recordings are wonderful examples of quintessential bel canto operas performed by excellent casts, but this recording of "Maria Stuarda" must stand out. While other sopranos may be considered to have richer voices, Sills' technical mastery, incredible musicanship and acting skills make her one of the finest performers of bel canto opera in the second half of the 20th century.
And unlike in her recording of "I Puritani", here Sills is ably supported by her fellow cast members. Stuart Burrows is an elegant and refined Mozartean tenor--very different in style from Sills' fierce and somewhat "over the top" portrayal of Mary Stuart--but it works very well for his role as the ineffectual Leicester. And one of the joys of this recording is the chance to hear the sadly under-recorded American dramatic soprano Eileen Farrell in one of the very few (if not the only) full length opera roles she recorded. Her rich and powerful soprano is a joy to hear, and her duets with Sills are musically stunning--one of the major highlights of this opera. If you like bel canto opera, you'll love this recording.