Cher Public

  • laddie: Happy Birthday Håkan Hagegård! httpv://www.youtub 1HTDh0k 8:12 PM
  • ilpenedelmiocor: Oh yeah, definitely Team Oscar here, for precisely this reason. 7:56 PM
  • ilpenedelmiocor: My most hated moment in opera. Just try explaining the plot of this opera to someone who knows nothing about opera, and... 7:52 PM
  • rapt: My note was about Racette, btw (should there be any question….). 7:49 PM
  • rapt: For me, too, the 2010 Tosca broadcast was a knockout, the later HD not so special. Obviously not a Tosca of vocal glamor, but a... 7:48 PM
  • PCally: This reminds you of De Neise?. Pretty harsh. De Neise has some major problems with both pitch and intonation and a her top gets... 7:22 PM
  • la vociaccia: is this representative of her singing? No. This is: httpv:// FFpzip-SZk DDN could never…. 7:13 PM
  • Cocky Kurwenal: I’ve never heard any Hannigan before. Is this representative of her singing? httpv://www.youtub 6:44 PM

Red queen

Joyce DiDonato is taking her Mary Stuart on the road, so to speak. She’ll sing it in London, Berlin, and Barcelona. She’ll be working with Patrice Caurier as director. For those who want an idea of what to expect, the Met has now released on DVD last season’s production of Maria Stuarda.  It’ll be interesting to see how DiDonato’s portrayal changes and grows with different directors and increased familiarity with the role. I’m also curious to see how she’s received in this role abroad.

In the U.S. a lot of DiDonato’s popularity is not just tied to her singing but to who she is—the Yankee diva, a hard-working, conscientious musician who also speaks out on a variety of social and artistic matters. But even in the U.S., there’s a certain snob factor I’ve heard creep into discussions about DiDonato. Like she’s a jolly good singer, a “nice gal,” but not a Big Fucking Deal Diva.

Maria Stuarda is her first foray into Big Fucking Deal Diva repertory. How does it stack up, then, against all the Big Fucking Deal Divas who have sung/sing this role?

Well, it’s not a total triumph, but it’s an admirable effort. I saw this production of Maria Stuarda when it first premiered I went to compare my initial impressions of the performance to impressions I got while watching the video. A lot of my initial impressions of the performance and production were re-confirmed by watching the video.

For instance, at the time I thought Mary was an awkward fit for DiDonato’s voice, and I still think that. Not that she didn’t sing it with musicality and taste, but the sustained high tessitura of the role (even with some transpositions) tends to expose the weaknesses of her voice—the vibrato that turns into a bleat, a certain hardness in her upper register, and the fact that her voice is essentially a slender instrument that is exquisite in Mozart, Rossini, or baroque music but lacks a certain grandeur that Maria Stuarda requires.

With that being said, there are still many things to admire about the mezzo’s vocalism. It’s always so clean and stylish. It’s kind of interesting to compare her Maria Stuarda to Anna Netrebko’s Anna Bolena. If we could merge Joyce’s impeccable musical accuracy with Anna Netrebko’s clarion voice and charisma, we’d have the perfect heroine to play all three Donizetti queens.

At the time I also thought that Joyce’s portrayal of Mary was too “nice and self-effacing” and that even in big moments like when she hurls the insult “Figlia impura di Bolena! Vil bastarda!” there wasn’t any fire in the belly. Well, the video actually changed my initial impression. The close-ups gave an intimacy to the portrayal that wasn’t visible in a large auditorium, and DiDonato’s Mary worked much better dramatically than I remembered.

Joyce says in the intermission interview that the conflict between Elizabeth and Mary was compelling because “they are both so right.” Meaning they both acted out of their deeply held religious and personal convictions, and not out of any malice. If taken in that context then DiDonato’s reading of Mary is very intelligent. She doesn’t spit out “Figlia impura…” because Mary doesn’t see those words as an insult—she sees them as simple fact.

DiDonato’s portrayal of Mary is consistent. She’s dignified and righteous, as a Catholic martyr should be.  I like the overall stoicism with which DiDonato goes to the execution. Opera lovers might complain that it’s not exciting enough, but DiDonato carries her concept of Mary from start to finish and for that she must be admired.

Elsa van den Heever (Elizabeth) I described as being “more can belto than bel canto but it was fun.” The video if anything makes van den Heever even more fun to watch, as things I missed in the theater were highlighted in HD. The opening scene has Elizabeth acting kinky with what looks like a microphone but actually seems to be a weird sex toy with which she prods her jesters from behind.

Her soprano voice is rather shrill and strident. But she supplies an appropriate yin to Mary’s yang. If Mary’s going to be all dignified and beatific someone has to do a Bette Davis impersonation. It’s interesting to hear Donizetti’s vocal writing for Elizabeth. It’s more declamatory and at times almost veristic, a constant contrast to Mary’s florid, angelic vocal line.

I thought at the time the men (Matthew Polenzani as Leicester, Matthew Rose as Talbot and Joshua Hopkins as Lord Cecil) were all decent but that in this dual prima donna opera they kind of got lost in the woodwork. After watching the video I noticed something about Polenzani’s voice that I also noticed in yesterday’s Cosi fan tutte broadcast—that his once buttery smooth timbre (almost too smooth) now has a creeping nasal sound that I’m not sure I entirely like. Also, Matthew: lay off the eyeshadow.

Maurizio Benini was a pleasant surprise—I always thought of him as one of those unassuming conductors, whose work you never really notice. But the HD video made the Met orchestra sound absolutely fantastic, truly a world-class orchestra. And the Met chorus (led by Donald Palumbo) is always amazing.

David McVicar’s production I described as “straightforward, inoffensive, but also somewhat unimaginative” at the time. John MacFarlane’s sets evoke Tudor England in a semi-stylized way. When I rewatched the video I found McVicar’s production more detailed than I remembered, but not always in a good way.

For instance, in the theater I admired the fact that he had Mary take off her black dress to reveal a red petticoat as she walked to the executioner’s block. This was a nice nod to history, as Mary Stuart did exactly that. Red is the color of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. But McVicar also had Mary strip off her auburn wig to reveal a head of gray, short hair. This is a directorial cliche: wig off = the real heroine, stripped of all pretenses.

But the historical Mary actually kept her wig on and only when the head was held up did her head roll out of the wig, revealing that she did indeed have graying, short hair. This grisly scene says a lot about Mary: she might have thought of herself as a martyr for the cause, but she was also every inch a queen, and she micro-managed her own execution. I wish McVicar could have incorporated Mary’s own sense of theater and drama into his production.

Another McVicar touch which was obvious in HD close-ups but not so much in the theater is that he directs Mary to have tremors (Parkinsonism?) in the last act. I understand the desire to make Mary a real, middle-aged woman but the trembling was distracting in the relentless close-ups. This was an effect that played better in the theater than on video.

I do think however that McVicar’s approach to these operas is the right one: these fictionalized historical dramas about the Tudor Queens are so embedded in films, plays, books, TV series, and documentaries, that radical re-imaginings are counter-productive. It’s like remaking Gone With the Wind.


  • armerjacquino says:

    Devil’s advocate: is it fair to say that people who consider DiDonato a nice woman and very good singer rather than a Big Deal Diva’ are ‘snobs’? Don’t you sort of say that yourself later on?

    • Poison Ivy says:

      I’m more talking about the people who sort of dismissed the performance out of hand before they even saw it because they just couldn’t picture Joyce singing a role they associated with Edita Gruberova/Beverly Sills/Montserrat Caballe/Joan Sutherland.

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    I’m not really sure what this says about Maria Stuarda or the cast assembled (if anything), but the sales pattern at the ROH right now looks slightly unusual to me -- the first 2 performances are largely sold, but for the remaining 4 there are 100+ tickets left for each show, but only in the very highest price categories of c.£150 -- £190. Ordinarily when there are 100+ tickets left, there is more of an even distribution around the house, with a fair few of them being quite affordable restricted view seats in the balcony or stalls circle.

    Incidentally, what is it about being realistic about the pacakge DiDonato offers that makes one a ‘snob’? You said yourself to me the other week that it isn’t an ‘Oh my god’ kind of a voice.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    Here a great scene with Zampieri and Balsta from Wien:

  • alejandro says:

    I saw Polenzani’s understudy, so it was such a lopsided performance for me. I didn’t care for Van Den Heever so I was waiting desperately for Joyce to show up.

    I actually loved the removal of the wig at the end. Yeah, I get the historical accuracy thing but it was equal parts heartbreaking/you go girl! for me.

  • Porgy Amor says:

    Ivy, so much agreement on Maria’s trembling and shuddering in the second half. It is the one thing I seriously disliked in this solid production from McVicar, one of his best at the Met. (I had fought to remain upright through his Bolena the previous season, which is preserved in my memory as vividly as a bowl of oatmeal…which it actually resembled, come to think of it. So, the superior design and personal direction here were a welcome surprise.) I believe I know why he had Maria trembling, to suggest age and the passage of many hard years, but I don’t think DiDonato needed it to make the point, and it could not have made her job any easier musically. It was only a distraction — at least for me, if not for her.

    About DiDonato’s portrayal, I have no reservations, or such as I have are so small and few as to not matter. It was great bel canto singing by my standards, the kind that encourages me still to go hear bel canto operas. Often people praise a singer’s technique and even before I am done reading the sentence, I see the other hand poised to take away — “Well, she has this superb technique, but…” In an opera such as this one, I would argue that without a superb technique (if not at DiDonato’s level, then within hailing distance), the opera is scarcely worth the bother. What Donizetti wrote is not easily realized, not everyone can do it, but everything he put to paper has a purpose. This is not music that impresses us with adventurous harmonies or sophisticated orchestration. Much of the expression is built into the musical line, and ideally the accurate execution at the micro level will work hand to hand with what we might think of “macro” vocal acting — the colors of the voice, the imaginative treatment of the words — as well as the physical acting if one is watching. When I hear a singer smearing and approximating her way through this kind of score, I just cannot get on board with it. DiDonato’s mastery of the idiom is itself thrilling to me, and she brought with it a vibrant personality and what seemed a heartfelt portrayal.

    On a lighter note, in that opening scene, would it be fair to say Elisabetta did, in fact, turn around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for her?

  • DeepSouthSenior says:

    I saw this last year on Live in HD. It’s been available for some time at Met Opera on Demand but I haven’t watched it online. I will purchase the DVD.

    My reaction to the Live in HD revealed more about me than the performers. I was overworked and overtired that Saturday, and I sort of “zoned out” during the final scenes leading up to the execution. I didn’t react positively or negatively; I just didn’t care. It’s strange how where we are mentally, emotionally, and physically can so affect our perception of artists and their craft.

    I’m looking forward to watching the DVD in a better frame of mind. I do remember that Elsa van den Heever galumphing about the stage in Act I was a hoot!

  • CwbyLA says:

    This was my first time seeing Stuarda completely. I loved the performance because of DiDonato. Frankly I didn’t care much about Elsa (ugly voice) or Polenzani (not enough passion). Joyce’s performance was very effective both in singing and acting. I also thought the tremors were perfect since it clearly showed how fragile Maria had become. I was actually astonished that Joyce could so those tremors and sing at the same time.

    The final scene, with the wig removed, was an emotional high. Why care about the historical accuracy of the last scene when the opera itself is not historically accurate? Was there ever a meeting between Elizabeth and Mary? The removal of the black dress and wig was incredibly effective. Kudos to McVicar for great direction.

    • Poison Ivy says:

      I actually thought a more effective thing would have been to have Mary wear her grey short hair during the confession, and then put on the wig for her execution. I just think wig-ripping has become a directorial cliche.

      • kashania says:

        That’s a good solution, having her put the wig on just before the execution.

        • Milady DeWinter says:

          Isn’t that what Vanessa Redgrave did in the “Mary Queen of Scots” film ?(with GLenda Jackson as Elizabeth). She had a black robe on and FLUNG is open to expose a very red dress as she laid her head on the block. A lot of critics ripped that movie apart, Paiuline Kael included, but I loved it.

    • antikitschychick says:

      Thank you for the deatailed review Ivy. I largely agree with your impression of JDD’s performance CwbyLA. I was just bowled over by her magnificent singing and exceptional acting and I have to say I absolutely LOVED(!!!) the tremors. I had never seen an opera singer (or singing actor/actress) that committed to the physicality of the role, (with the exception of Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon who did some neat juggling in an in Elisir with AN :-P ). Moreover, to see how genuinely moved she was at the end by the standing ovation…like, there are no words. That kind of authenticity is rare and I cherished every minute of it.

      I can certainly appreciate different vocal interpretations and I totally understand the reservations in respect to her vocal limitations but she is indeed a great technician and even better performer I’d say. I liked Elsa’s commitment as well and didn’t find her singing that strident but I felt she wasn’t the right match/counter to Joyce. Someone with a bit more vocal prowess and experience would have been better suited to the role, though perhaps ppl’s point about not wanting her to be overshadowed has some truth to it. I don’t think Joyce is the kind of artist to worry about such things that so I would attribute those types of casting decisions to the Met management. JMHO.

  • kashania says:

    This review matched my own impressions after watching the TV broadcast twice. Di Donato gives a great performance without necessarily have the right voice for the part. The top does sound exposed in a bad way. And where one wants a voluptuous bloom, Joyce has a tightly-wound vibrato and a somewhat dry tone. But the overall performance is still tremendous, especially from a musical perspective. I found the trembling in the final scene rather moving, but I do think that she needed a bit more fire in the belly for “Figlia impura di Bolena”.

    Van den Heever does not have a golden tone and I can see people not liking her voice. I heard some similar reactions from people when she sang the Trov Leonora in Toronto. I happen to like the voice and think she gave a tremendous performance, both musically and as a stage actress.

    Polenzani is a class act.

    I quite liked McVicar’s production. I agree with Ivy that he takes the right approach — telling the story in a straightforward but vibrant way.

    • Poison Ivy says:

      I thought her “Figlia impura di Bolena” lacked fire in the belly too when I saw it in the theater but on video her self-righteous (rather than insulting) delivery makes sense. To Elizabeth it is a grave insult but I think to someone as steeped in Catholic dogma and the divine right to rule as Mary those words would have been fact. To her, the very idea of a bastard child ruling England was offensive.

      The divine right to rule idea is so archaic today that it can be hard to empathize with monarchs like Marie Antoinette or Mary Stuart but they were brought up thinking they really did have a divine right to rule, and I think death was a preferable option to renouncing the throne.

  • Opera Teen says:

    DiDonato is a singer whom I am a huge fan and I found her Stuarda hugely moving, probably because I haven’t had as much of the influence of other recordings. However, the broadcast performance was even more intense Didonato that usual. I was talking with people and when it got to the confrontation, the consensus was “Wow… She really went for it. Like, even more than usual, today.”

  • The Conte says:

    I thought Joyce’s interpretation of Maria was subtle and intelligent and there aren’t many other singers today who I think could do the part such justice. She held her own without surpassing some of the role’s past exponents (especially Joan).

    Van den Heever was another thing entirely.


  • vilbastarda says:

    Yet another missed opportunity by the Met to engage Anna Caterina Antonacci as Elisabetta. She and Joyce would’ve made a killer pair. Can only dream about what a smash hit that would’ve been.

    I really wanted to like Elsa van den Heever, but I found her voice unfocused, and dry in the house, and simply not pretty in HD. Joyce’s voice is also not the epitome of gorgeousness, but she knows how to work with the instrument that she has, and her musicality compensates plenty. I was quite moved by her performance, every time I saw this production, didn’t find her too tame, just very smart and effective. And transposed parts didn’t bother me at all, after all bel canto singing is not (just) about glorious high notes, it is about expression through musical line, and Joyce is a master of that.

    But have to disagree with Ivy about Benini’s conducting. My sense of bel canto was quite insulted by his conducting. I found him galloping through parts that required more lyricism, and simply lacking style.

    McVicar is a director that I quite enjoy, I think he manages to be innovative, and creates thought provoking productions while staying within “traditional” settings.

    • Poison Ivy says:

      vilbastarda, I was also thinking that Antonacci would have been great as Elisabeth. And actually I found this video and was thinking that if there’s anyone Joyce DiDonato reminds me of it’s Mariella Devia. Not in terms of voice or range, but in the way both take a very clean, consistent, controlled approach to music. Neither have the most beautiful voices but that controlled, clean, disciplined approach to this kind of music is what I associate with DiDonato and what I associate with Devia.

      • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

        Penda, too, is a bombastic Elisabetta. Of course, neither her or Antonacci would have been cast since they’d completely overshadow such an insipid Stuarda.

      • semira mide says:

        Oh dear, having heard both Devia and DiDonato in recital I will respectfully have to disagree. They are miles apart. They are both wonderful, but to hear their respective Elenas in “La Donna del Lago” is almost like hearing two different characters. I think Devia’s introspection often gets mistaken for control. I love the Antonacci/Devia Stuarda, and I don’t think there ever was that kind of electricity in the Met production. Benini can be a good conductor, but he sounds “tired of bel canto” sometimes.
        But aren’t we lucky to be able to have both productions on DVD so we don’t HAVE to choose?

        • coloraturafan says:

          I’ve seen Devia in Stuarda twice in Naples, and DiDonato in Stuarda twice in Houston. No comparison at all, nothing alike. Personally I think DiDoanto is a better voice for Stuarda, in fact I think a voice with a lower center works better in gernal for Stuarda. For me, Devia is almost always uncomfortable on stage. The lady can sing, but she’s never been a commanding figure on stage which lead to a rather boring performance in Naples. I remember when I saw her in a concert performance of Lucrezia Borgia in Ancona, she was on stage waiting to start her “com e bello” she looked like she was going to shit a brick. I’ve never seen a singer so uncomfortable standing on stage. I actually felt bad for her. I thought maybe the stress of the evening was too much.

          • Evenhanded says:


            Coloraturafan, I am very surprised that you don’t have much good to say about Devia. Or perhaps just in this role? I love DiDonato as much as the next guy, but IMO, Devia is MILES beyond DiDonato in terms of natural vocal endowment and technical aplomb. JDD is amazing, for sure, but her voice is less focused than Devia’s and has MUCH less tonal lustre. I have seen Devia a half-dozen times live, and while she can be emotionally cold (controlled), her vocalism has epitomized what I would expect in terms of “bel canto” style and phrasing.

            I agree that JDD’s voice sits nicely for Stuarda, but ultimately, a soprano is better suited to the music, IMO. Of the three Donizetti queens, Stuarda has the most cantabile music allied to the most passive characterization. Because of this, I think a bit of extra verve is warranted -- particularly in the confrontation scene. Overall, I think it was the best queen for Sills (best fit for her lighter voice), Sutherland (too passive for me), and Caballe (gorgeous). Bolena and Elisabetta require an altogether different vocal approach.

            • coloraturafan says:

              Yes of course I agree Devia is a great singer, in the greatest bel canto tradition. But for me, watching her on video and seeing her live are two very different experiences.

              The last few performances I saw live were a little lackluster (Stuarda Naples, Puritani Cagliari and Traviata Bologna). It always looks like she is uncomfortable and stressed. This was confirmed for me when I would see how she reacted with fans after the performance, cold and forced.

            • tiger1dk says:

              Coloraturafan and Evenhanded, I think it is a somewhat strange thing to say that “JDD’s voice sits nicely for Stuarda”, when she had to transpose several of the key numbers. Of course, you can say that she sings and acts the part well (to which I would tend to agree) -- but is the transposition not clear proof that her voice does NOT sit nicely for Stuarda, at least as written by Donizetti?

          • A. Poggia Turra says:

            coloraturafan -- she does look a bit nervous in this photo:


      • vilbastarda says:

        Ooooh yeah, I know this video, and this production very well. It was a controversial production, with strange costumes, but I find it very effective.

        See, to me DiDonato and Devia are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I actually find Devia’s voice very beautiful, and of course she has perfect technique. Devia is the type of singer that values beautiful, perfect vocal production above all. I never heard her live, for obvious reasons, and would love to be able to come to her Roberto Devereux in June, but a lot of stars will have to align perfectly for me to be able to do that. DiDonato, and Antonacci for that matter are singers that start with the meaning, and text, and musical line, and adjust their vocal production to the meaning that they want/need to convey. And both have voices that are not always the most beautiful, but they communicate and infuse meaning like no others, and are extremely musical. I actually think that having their approach helps them greatly with their vocalisation, and smooths some vocal imperfections.

        • Krunoslav says:

          I think many who refer to Devia as if she were just some kind of voice machine re trapped in memories of her Met career; but as you say you have never seen her onstage it’s not that.

          No one would argue that she is a Scotto or Callas dramatically, but tome there is considerable emotion in the tone and phrasing and that she can be quite affecting onstage.

          She is certainly streets ahead of Fleming or Gruberova here:

          And this- besides what extraordinary vocalism it is from a 59 year old with 4 decades of singing behind her-- does not strike me a emotionless singing that;s just about making ‘beautiful tone”. Of course JDD like Antonacci is a better and more detailed physical actress, but I would *hardly* put Devia as her opposite. Nor, I believe, would JDD, who went out of her way in interviews to mention her admiration for Devia’s legacy in this part.

          Here’s hoping she’s in good form for DEVEREUX in June.

          • Poison Ivy says:

            Kruno, here’s a video taken just a few weeks ago of Devia singing the finale of Maria Stuarda:

            • Krunoslav says:

              Thanks, Ivy. That’s still pretty remarkable ( for a 66 year old!),even though some of the velvet has worn off in 8 years and the acuti are no longer perfection. I ‘d say there is emotion in this singing! And also a complete understanding of the style.

          • coloraturafan says:

            I think the La Scala Borgia that you posted is one of Devia’s greatest moments. Vocally she was just at the edge of her peak, the “era desso” is as good as it gets.

          • vilbastarda says:

            I didn’t mean being opposite as one being good and the other bad. Both are amazing singers, just different, very different. And I admire greatly Devia’s vocalism, and artistry, and her longevity. Also, in case of DiDonato and Antonacci, it is not just the physicality of their interpretations, it is their approach to conveying musical meaning. You can hear it in their audio only recordings. They start with the textual meaning, they “sing the text”, while Devia’s approach is more of singing the music and superimposing text to it. Devia, in a way has a more instrumental approach, imho.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I guess what I mean is that neither DiDonato and Devia intentionally try to set the house on fire. That doesn’t mean they can’t set the house on fire, but both of them sort of dot their i’s and cross their t’s when they approach a role, and to some that’s extreme control, and to others, it’s “boring” or “calculated.” (That’s a term I’ve heard used against both Devia and DiDonato.)

              They’re a contrast to, say, Caballe, who could be very sloppy, but then she could do this:

            • Krunoslav says:


            • semira mide says:

              Having seen numerous rehearsal videos of Devia, I think you are on to something vilbastarda. Devia’s approach does seem really to be more “singing the music and superimposing text”.

              Thanks Coloraturafan for your comments about her live performances in opera ( lucky you). I can imagine in the abstract being disappointed with her. A friend who attended her Norma in Bologna said it was sublime, but disappointing. It sure is hard to be a critic these days!

            • armerjacquino says:

              Can I- inevitably- bring in Janowitz as another example? Nobody will ever call her an actor (although one part, Leonore, made her catch fire dramatically in a way that no other part seems to have done) and she had an irritating tendency to facial and physical placidity. But I think there *is* passion and power and pain in her singing. Her NOZZE Countess, on video, looks unbothered, but the audio is full of pain. In the film of ARIADNE, she does nothing whatsoever facially, but if you listen to it you hear a transition from resignation to rapture.

              Devia to me is the same- she does a lot dramatically with the music, even as she doesn’t do a great deal physically.

              Ideally, of course, we get both- Callas being the obvious example, but there are many others. But I think there’s room for the Janowitzes and Devias- just as there’s room for the singers with imperfect vocalism (to varying extents Stratas, late Scotto and even Poplavskaya spring to mind) who can bring something theatrically riveting to what they do.

            • Camille says:

              Armerj—I have a Janowitz question for you: do you happen to know the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”? and if you do, is it she featured in the excerpted “Sull’aria” in the film?

              Just wondering. No biggie. A very beautiful and touching scene. I’ll go see if I can find it on YouTube.


            • armerjacquino says:

              Yes, it’s a film I liked a lot, and the use of the music in that scene is beautiful.

      • Poison Ivy says:

        Guesta I don’t think DiDonato’s Mary is “insipid.” I think it’s not as high-drama as people prefer, but read Mary’s real-life letters:

        As you can see, Mary was a woman who took her own royal heritage very seriously. She had exquisite manners and worried about her servants, her burial, respect for her religion, her royal blood, etc. In that sense I think Joyce’s dignified, lady-like approach makes perfect sense: it’s very much how Mary saw herself and probably how she behaved in everyday life.

        As I said, “vil bastarda” is meant to be a grave insult to Elizabeth, but to many Catholics with Mary’s religious upbringing, it wasn’t an insult. It was fact. I think Joyce’s approach to the role is very valid.

        • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

          Maybe it does make sense but in the end the opera is not a historical document on Mary Stuart. After all, the meeting between the two never even took place.
          But I don’t understand what you mean by vil bastarda not being an insult for Catholics. After all, being born out of wedlock or be the product of sin is a big deal for them.

          • Poison Ivy says:

            When I mean it’s not an insult, I mean that Mary with her Catholic upbringing would have thought that it was Elizabeth who was insulting the thrown by being a bastard child and ruling when she had no right to the throne. Mary was pointing out the obvious and to her Elizabeth is the one being brazen by acting like a Queen, when by rights she should have been deposited at a nunnery and treated as a child of sin.

            I know this is a weird reference but I think about the Dred Scott decision:
            “In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument…They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

            Read today this is a horribly racist, offensive decision, especially the infamous line “no rights which the white man was bound to respect,” but to Roger Taney and a certain mindset, he didn’t intend to be racist and offensive. To him, he was just pointing out/reminding the Dred Scotts of the world what their place was, and that they were NOT valued as people, but as property.

            I think of Mary’s line as similar logic: Elizabeth to her is a bastard, a child of sin, she has no right to even be in the same room as me, much less rule over me.

  • Niel Rishoi says:

    Both singers are ON here:

  • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

    She clearly knows what she’s singing about