Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

Pelleas et Mélisande in Aix

Three parallel universes (before losing count) — the ephemeral Debussy/Maeterlinck masterpiece, the Debussy symphonic tone poem, and the twisted intricacies of a moldy, parochially English country estate.

Siegfried, Opera North

This, alas, was where I had to sign off. A weekend conference on Parsifal (including, on the Saturday, a showing of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Parsifal film) mean that I missed Götterdämmerung, skipping straight to the sequel.

Götterdämmerung, Opera North

The culmination of Opera North’s “Ring for Everyone”, this Götterdämmerung showed the power of the condensed movement so necessary in a staged performance - each gesture of each character was perfectly judged - as well as the visceral power of having Wagner’s huge orchestra on stage as opposed to the pit.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Judith Howarth as Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots [Photo by Michal Daniel courtesy of Minnesota Opera]
01 Feb 2011

Maria Stuarda, Minnesota Opera

The 2010-2011 season for Minnesota Opera is steeped in Bel Canto opera selections, starting with Rossini’s Cenerentola this fall, currently featuring Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and for the spring, a production of Verdi’s La Traviata with acclaimed Violetta, Elizabeth Futral.

Gaetano Donizetti: Maria Stuarda

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots: Judith Howarth; Elizabeth I, Queen of England: Brenda Harris; Robert, Earl of Leicester: Bruce Sledge; Lord Cecil, Elizabeth's councilor: Michael Nyby; Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury: Jonathan Kimple; Anne, Maria's nurse: Victoria Vargas. Conductor: Anne Manson. Stage Director: Kevin Newbury. Set Designer: Neil Patel. Costume Designer: Jessica Jahn. Lighting Designer: D. M. Wood.

Above: Judith Howarth as Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

All photos by Michal Daniel courtesy of Minnesota Opera

 

The current production of Maria Stuarda is the company’s second installment of the Donizetti Tudor trilogy, with a production of Roberto Devereax in the 2009-2010 season.

The casting of dueling sopranos, Judith Howarth (Mary Stuart) and Brenda Harris (Elizabeth I), was spot on. Harris’ golden soprano houses a steely core, which captured both the warmth and terror of the strong-willed queen in perfect balance. Her opening cavatina and cabaletta, “Ah! quando all’ara sorgemi…Ah dal ciel discenda un raggio” boasted incredibly fierce coloratura, and ascents into the heights of her voice that both thrilled and terrified. Harris is clearly at home in the Bel Canto repertoire, though her performance with Minnesota Opera was her debut of Queen Elizabeth I in Maria Stuarda.

1335.gifMichael Nyby as Lord Cecil, Elizabeth's councilor and Brenda Harris as Elizabeth I, Queen of England

Judith Howarth’s silvery, spinning soprano was a wonderful juxtaposition to Harris’ Elizabeth. Howarth gave Maria great depth of character, vocally with amazing vocal and dramatic finesse and flexibility. In the finale of Act I, Howarth’s biting Italian diction and metallic high notes struck lightning during her quarrel with Elizabeth, while her sustained B-flat sustained over the chorus in Act III seemed to emerge out of the ether.

Both Howarth and Harris are seasoned veterans of the Bel Canto repertory, and both approached these women with strong and meaningful dramatic and vocal choices. Tenor Bruch Sledge (Earl of Leicester) nailed Donizetti’s style musically, but his overall dramatic execution of the role paled in comparison to the two queens. Sledge was quite awkward in his Act I duet with Howarth, not connecting to her musical phrasing or even the dramatic conversation. His stage deportment was impotent, and the love triangle plot became quite implausible.

Victoria Vargas’ Anne sparked with complete ease in the coloratura and line, and infused a fullness and warmth that easily cut through the orchestration. This is certainly the best singing from this Resident Artist so far this season.

Performances: Feb. 1, 3, 5, and 6 at Ordway

Sarah Luebke

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):