Donizetti / Maria Stuarda

I have had this stuck in my head on and off for several days. I have no idea why.

It’s Shirley Verrett performing “Ah, quando all’ ara scorgemi,” Elisabetta’s first aria from Donizetti’s opera Maria Stuarda, which is one of those delightfully anachronistic nineteenth-century operas about sixteenth-century politics. Have you ever seen that awful Mel Gibson movie The Patriot? Well, the relationship between Mel Gibson and the actual American revolution is a little bit like the relationship between Donizetti and his librettist and their source material. With the crucial difference that Maria Stuarda is entertaining. Also, no horses get run through with American flags, which is always pretty much a plus for me, as far as opera goes.

(BTW, a while back in a Don Carlos context I mentioned animal wranglers. Apparently the Met gets most of their animals from these people. I am not sure that this a useful piece of information, but there you are.)

I would like some day to teach a course about nineteenth-century operas based on sixteenth-century politics – “The muse and the censor: politics and opera in Europe, 1815-1914” or something like that. The only trouble is, I am not a historian of nineteenth-century Europe. I think I could fake it convincingly for an undergraduate seminar though, and if I could get more than, say, two people to take it it’d be an awful lot of fun.

6 thoughts on “Donizetti / Maria Stuarda

  1. Also, no horses get run through with American flags
    Very much a plus given opera’s obsession with using actual animals on stage.

    I mentioned animal wranglers
    The Met ones got interviewed during the interval of one of the MetHD broadcasts. It just made me think of an ancient episode of ISIHAC where a representative of Animals Equity is bemoaning the fact that all the good parts go to horses, dogs and foxes causing a marked lack of employment for wombat and possum actors.


    1. If there was ever a production of any opera — any opera — where there was a ‘good part’ for a wombat, I would be there regardless of expense.


        1. @ operaramblings, you could probably work a possum or two into Susannah. Or Mahagonny, for that matter. Alabama Song would benefit, I think.

          @ earworm, your hypothetical syllabus is going to end up all Schiller.


          1. I know . . .and yet it’s kind of appealing even so. (There would have to be some readings about ‘political’ operas in general, and maybe if the course was stretched backward in time, a little Beaumarchais, and later some stuff about operatic censorship in 19th century Italy — and I need to stop writing this hypothetical syllabus and get back to writing the real ones that I actually will have to teach in the fall.)


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